Ag Society receives advisory opinion on open meeting law, govt. data practice act

Jordan Gerard

The Houston County Agricultural Society is subject to the Minnesota Open Meeting Law (Chapter 13) and Government Data Practices Act (Chapter 13D), in the opinion of the Minnesota Department of Administration.

Secretary Emily Johnson announced the results of the opinion at their regular meeting on June 16 at the fairgrounds.

In it, the department said the Houston County Agricultural Society is a public government entity and therefore must follow the Open Meeting Law and Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

This past spring, the Spring Grove Herald requested past meeting minutes and agendas from January 2017 to December 2018. 

In addition, materials between the board and a private person(s) who contracted with said board to produce the 2017 and 2018 Premium Lists, as per the MN Government Data Practices Act, statute 13.05, subd. 11.

The opinion is not legally binding, but does provide the right direction for disagreements such as this situation. 

Johnson said, “We are getting the necessary paperwork together for handing over.” The Herald awaits those materials.

The department has issued similar opinions for Dakota County Agricultural Society, but the Herald asked the department specifically to name the Houston County Agricultural Society.

Radio ads

Get ready to hear advertisements for the Houston County Fair on local radio stations, as the Houston County Agricultural Society (commonly known as the fair board) approved two media groups to handle the ads.

Ads will be heard on Kicks 106.3 FM and Classic Rock 100.1 (part of La Crosse Media Group) for $1,568. Kicks 106.3 will also do a two-hour promotion at the fair for the Black Hawk concert on Friday night, Aug. 16.

KNEI 103.5 FM will also promote the concert at the fair, announce and open the performance. The radio station may also do a ticket give away, after more discussion with the board. 

Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s radio stations Z93, KQ98 and 95.7 The Rock will also have ads for $3,400. 

On the topic of advertising, Dan of DRK Graphix was approved the bid to create new signs for the fair. The board will pay for 4 ft. by 4 ft. signs ($125), sponsorship boards by the entrances ($80), double-sided yard signs ($15 each) and re-vamping the road signs for each city in Houston County ($75).

Mathy Construction

The board approved the use of their shower building for Mathy Construction while the company is working in Caledonia. 

Mathy will be charged $100 a week plus usage for the showers. They must also provide their own padlock and a copy of the key to the board while the building is unlocked. They are also responsible for any damages or accidents that happen. The board agreed to get a written agreement in place.


4-H News

4-H Program Coordinator Rebecca Paulson asked if the air conditioning unit in the fair office could be replaced soon. The fair board agreed to let Groundskeeper Craig Welsh clean it.

Paulson also asked if the 4-H food building could get a wheel chair accessible ramp into the front door of the building. 

Because they aren’t able to get in the front door, those with wheel chairs often come to the back door to place an order. People who have scooters can usually get in, she added. The board agreed to make accommodations.

Finally, Paulson requested to add breakfast, lunch and dinner menus to the signs advertising the 4-H food stand in the barns. The board disagreed, citing other vendors would also want to put their menus up in the barns too.

Paulson said 4-H has use of the buildings throughout the fairgrounds, and they would like to advertise the food stand elsewhere on the grounds. The board still disagreed and finally approved Paulson to only have the breakfast menu on the signs. They might allow more menus next year.

Possible haunted house

Treasurer Deb Houdek said the fundraising committee for the new livestock barn said they are exploring the idea of putting on a haunted house fundraiser in October. 

They would use the Krech Arena to house it. Schmitz Transportation would also be contacted to see if their buses could sit outside for a while.

The remainder of the fair buildings is full with stored items. The fundraiser would run two weekends in October and the committee would need a week before that to set it up.

The board agreed to let board member Kristy Pearce talk to the fundraising committee about it.

Secretarial report/other news

Secretary Emily Johnson said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had contacted Welsh asking if they could use the grounds again for a CWD testing site and to provide a carcass and whole head drop off box during hunting season. Hearing no objections from Welsh, the board approved the request.

The board agreed to get a gambling permit for the gun raffle that takes place in the beer tent. A total of five guns will be given away, two on Friday and Saturday and one on Sunday. 

The board approved Randy Bearbower Tree Trimming and Painting to paint the commercial building and the roof on the food stand building. Labor will be donated if the board supplies the paint. The donation is part of the company’s sponsorship.

Next meeting

The board abruptly went into closed session, without it announced on the agenda. 

The next meeting of the Houston County Agricultural Society is July 21, at 6 p.m., at the county fairgrounds.