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April 4, 2013

Vote for fairgrounds tax set for May

GRADY COUNTY — The Grady County Fairgrounds have brought revenue, status and Extreme Midget Wrestling to Grady County. On May 14, voters will have the opportunity to give back.

The Grady County Democratic Women met in the Community Building at the Grady County Fairgrounds to meet with Peggy McMahon about the proposed improvements to the facility.

The fairgrounds have long been a site for livestock shows and fairs. The facility has received praise for being modern while retaining its historic charm. The Grady County Fairgrounds is also one of the few fairgrounds facilities which still serves home cooked meals rather than just commercial food vendors, which sets the Grady County Fairgrounds apart, McMahon said.

The fairgrounds stays busy with events. During a weekend, it is not uncommon for 1,000 people to move through the facility. That means there are regularly 1,000 people in Grady County's hotels and restaurants because of the fairgrounds, McMahon said.

The community has partnered with the fairgrounds. Businesses such as Ross Seed and community groups such as OHCE have contributed to the fairgrounds.

The proposed improvements to the facility include a new outdoor arena and a multipurpose expo center which could host banquets, concerts, meetings and other large events. The outdoor arena would include a covered grandstand, room for concession and indoor restrooms. The gravel parking lot would be replaced with asphalt and the flooding issue would be resolved.

Providing convenience and comfort is important because if people aren't getting it at the fairgrounds, they will look for other facilities.

The current outdoor arena, for example, was built in 1987 from used oilfield pipe.

The Oklahoma State University recently did an impact study with the Grady County Fairgrounds and found that the facility generated $9 million in revenue during a year, McMahon said.

By voting yes on the continued sales tax, Grady County residents would pay about $0.25 for every $100 spent, McMahon said.

Loretta Jackson, who is on the steering committee, said, "This is an extension. If it didn't have an impact on you before, you're not going to feel it" … "You will see the progress," she said.

McMahon said she wants Grady County to feel a sense of ownership towards the fairgrounds.

"Each one of you are owners of this facility," she said.

There will be a public meeting about the proposed improvements and the continued sales tax on April 22 at 5:30 at the Grady County Fairgrounds.

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