WARSAW – Kosciusko County Fair Board has no intention of violating the re-instituted ban on motorized racing at the fairgrounds.
The board, having recently lost its appeal to Indiana Court of Appeals over its desire to renew racing at the fairgrounds, has not reached a decision on whether to take the case to the Indiana Supreme Court, officials said Monday night, March 9, at a fair board meeting.
Racing at the track has essentially been silenced over the past two summers as the board tested whether a 30-year old ban would survive a lawsuit.
An appeal to the State Supreme Court would likely take months to resolve.
An agreement to ban racing – reached nearly 30 years ago – began to fall apart about three years ago when the fair board began allowing some racing. That led a new group of homeowners to file suit to have the ban re-instituted.
Asked if there is any chance racing might be revived this summer, Shane Checketts, who assumed the role of president of the fair board this year, said they plan to honor the court ruling.
“We intend to comply with the injunction,” Checketts said. “Until such time as anything changes, that’s what we will comply with.”
Checketts said the board had spoken with their attorney after the latest decision was announced, but they still had not decided what to do.
The court of appeals also ruled the case be sent back to the lower court to determine whether the fair board should be required to pay for legal fees incurred in the latest appeal by the homeowners.
Checketts said personally he is not interested in another appeal, but that the decision would be made by the board.
Meanwhile, remaining portions of the lawsuit, specifically a nuisance count, linger unresolved. Fair board members, for more than a year, have said the nuisance count, if supported by the court, could shut down all activities related to anything involving motors.
Treasurer Sheal Dirck renewed that concern Monday.
The nuisance count, Dirck said, has been brushed aside, but “is the most dangerous one in this entire suit because that would essentially end all activities on the grounds, including the fair.”
Rick Snodgrass, a fair association member and an outspoken critic of the court case, called that “a stretch.”
Snodgrass warned against making such broad assumptions.
“I would caution you because you seem to talk off the top of your head instead of thinking before you talk. An assumption like that is dangerous,” Snodgrass said, apparently directing his comment to Dirck.
Both sides appeared to agree the issue was a matter of interpretation.
Jeff Owens, a fair association member who lives nearby, asked if the fair board had been in contact with the plaintiffs in hopes of resolving other aspects of the suit.
“It seems from the current status, the money spent to continue to argue this would be better spent on the kids in 4-H,” Owens said after the meeting.
A fair board member indicated they had been in touch with the plaintiffs, but that there have been no formal talks.
In other matters, the board approved plans to establish a position to work with the public and the media. The public information officer would create newsletters and work with the media, among other things, Checketts said.
The position would be a volunteer job.
The fairgrounds will have a barbecue fundraiser from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at the fairgrounds. Tickets are available at the fair office and online at kcfair.com.
The board is also seeking to replace board member Sarah Baier, who resigned for personal reasons.