Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

February 7, 2013

Fair Board approves money move, improvements

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville — The Marion County Fair Board met in regular session Monday night. Plans discussed include a money transfer and improvements to facilities at the Knoxville Raceway and Fairgrounds. 

Gary Schumacher, who handles the board's finances, told the board that the organization had too much money at Valley Bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has reverted back to the former figure of insuring up to $250,000 per account holder. To protect the board's funds, some of the money will be transferred Leighton State Bank and Marion County Bank in Pella, as well as Wells Fargo Bank. 

"We're going to need to move some money for safeguarding," Schumacher said. Board members were curious about how other tracks protect their money. Schumacher said he was unsure he would be able to find out, as most other race tracks are privately owned. 

In banking terms, the board - which operates both the Knoxville Raceway and the Marion County Fair - is seen as one entity with one tax identification number. All money for both of these purposes is linked to the board. The board could invest funds, and if the board chooses to do so, Schumacher encouraged members to find conservative, safe investments. 

Facility Improvements to be made

Improvements are coming to the suites at the Knoxville Raceway. General Manager Brian Stickel said a new roof will be placed on the suites. 

The current roof is good for 20 years, and the suites have reached that age. Improvements, such as new carpet, are made to some suites every year. Stickel's goal is to implement a rotation for improvements to the facilities so they are improved on a regular basis. 

The Knoxville Raceway Charitable Organization's building, below the grandstands at the track, is going to see improvements as well. Stickel said a portion of the existing building will be torn down and replaced. 

Melvin "Skeeter" Schone and Joe Ferguson were hired as new maintenance workers at the fairgrounds. This was approved Monday night, along with new Knoxville Raceway campground hosts. The new hosts, Don and Pat Frey, will be paid $250 a month, plus camping, to help campers through the season. 

Reservations for camping, including the handling of money, will be done at the main fair office. Improvements to the electrical system serving a portion of the campground are also coming. 

Stickel working on sponsorships

Sponsorships have not been finalized for the Nationals this year, though Stickel hopes to have the title sponsor and the presenting sponsor, narrowed down soon. Stickel is also finalizing deals with the World of Outlaws to bring the show to Knoxville in May and June, as well as the track's agreement with the Outlaws for Nationals. 

As for ticket sales, Stickel told the board, "Season ticket sales are going well." 

Rule changes

Race Director John McCoy announced changes to Knoxville Raceway rules. The new rules can be found at http://www.knoxvilleraceway.com/Article/1590.

Input was sought, and received, from drivers and owners, on the rule changes after the 2012 season banquet. Look for more on the rule changes as the season draws nearer. 

Volunteers sought for the fair

The Marion County Fair is scheduled for July 12-18. Fair Board member Dan Findley told the Knoxville Rotary Club on Wednesday that more volunteers are sought for events at the fair.

Findley has been meeting with a group to learn about ways to improve the fair. Some of these ideas will require people willing to help out. He encouraged Rotary, and other civic organizations, to do what they can to contribute to a new and improved county fair. 

Among the big attractions for the fair thus far are a carnival (which Findley says he has been guaranteed is "clean"), a concert by rock and roll cover band Hairball (scheduled for Friday, July 12, at 8 p.m. for a family-friendly show. Tickets are available for $15 each) and a rodeo, presented by Wright Rodeo Company, on Tuesday, July 16, at 7 p.m. 

Monster Jam in August

Field Motorsports will present Monster Jam at the Marion County Fairgrounds Friday, Aug. 16, and Saturday, Aug. 17. Stickel said the contract stipulates that the fair provide space for up to 15 monster trucks and trailers. 

This is the same group that performs at Wells Fargo Arena, Stickel said, though the show will be different "pretty spectacular." Stickel hopes to have tickets available for sale by March 1.