The Ferron Special Events Center Committee meets regularly to discuss the center and various funding options. Kathleen Truman is helping the committee prepare grants for money to do a feasibility and community impact study. Mayor Garth Larsen said the prepared document will also be used to request funding from other sources as well.
Truman said, "We are submitting a grant to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Rural Community Assistance. We will prepare an opportunity need statement. It looks good that there are buildings in place at the rodeo grounds already. The purpose and need for the project will be list our area as suffering an economic downturn and we also hope to diversify the economy and build heritage tourism. We will be serving the needs of Emery County by presenting an economic opportunity. A committee has been organized and the Emery County Community Foundation will manage any donated funds coming in.
"A 50 percent tax credit is available on your taxes for charitable donations to the foundation for the events center. Our goals and objectives are to improve the accommodations for the Southeastern Utah Junior Livestock Show, provide county recreation and attract new businesses to the area. The work plan includes clearing property that the city already owns which will enhance the look of the city," said Truman.
Mayor Larsen also pointed out the burning and demolition of the old homes would also include disconnecting utilities and other things which would take quite a bit of time.
Bob Bennett said, "We will also be constructing some new hog pens for the stock show."
It was pointed out grants would be prepared for submission to the Economic Development Administration and also the CIB board in December for construction funds. Emery County would qualify for grants through the EDA for high rates of unemployment, low per capita income and actual or threatened employment resulting from changes in economic conditions, like coal mine closures. The possibility of designing the center to be built in phases was discussed.
Truman said, "Twenty-five thousand dollars will do a nice feasibility study with detailed analysis and not just generalities. The feasibility study will be available to submit with grant proposals."
Mayor Larsen said, "Our goals are to improve accommodations to perpetuate the stock show by building a much larger facility. It will give the stock show a new place, but the same home. We want to keep it here always. The economic impact study will help generate ideas for other types of activities the center could accommodate, such as using the indoor arena for 4-H and roping activities and numerous other events. Last year we had 258 exhibitors from Brigham City to St. George, they came from all over the state. We had 348 animals. The sale generated $90,000 for the exhibitors.
"This center could house high school rodeos, state 4-H competitions, state riding club, BMX, motocross, car shows, RV shows, craft shows, the possibilities are endless," said Mayor Larsen.
The dimensions of the building are 165' x 300' with a covered area of 45' x 300' for stalls. Total roofed area would be 210' x 300.' Seating capacity would be up to 2500 people. Plans are also in the works to improve the RV parking at the rodeo grounds to provide trailer hookups. The showers and concession areas are also on the improvement list. The old barn will be turned into permanent horse stalls.
"The stock show is a huge draw for the area and people arrive with their camp trailers and stay for the whole event. The judges stay in the local motel and also in Castle Dale if the need arises. A lot of the exhibitors bring parents and grandparents. Many of the people who support the stock show also stay up at Millsite and enjoy the accommodations there," said Bob Bennett.
Mayor Larsen said, "The reason we decided to follow this through was because the existing stock show barn needs extensive renovations, so we decided instead of putting our energy into the old barn a new facility would be more feasible."
Other committee members mentioned further activities the building could be used for and how it could be a benefit to local schools. Mentioning indoor volleyball, indoor soccer, wrestling matches, wrestling tournaments, exceptional rodeos, and indoor football practices in inclement weather. The committee views the project as a benefit to the whole county.
Committee member Brett Behling had done some homework since the last meeting. In talking to the directors of the Panquitch facility he found they had built their facility with borrowed money by taking out city bonds. They told him grants were hard to come by. Eldon Whittle pointed out that they have a tax base in the area which isn't the case here.
Behling said, "The CIB doesn't fund arenas any more because they had a bad experience with the Moab facility. It was thrown together and the building has gone through several managers and sits idle most of the time. It's used to keep the locals happy. So the CIB has moved away from that to more essential items. I like the idea of building in phases."
The possibility of using volunteer labor and getting people to buy into the project was discussed. With the suggestion from Behling that they start simple and add to it as funds become available.
Mayor Larsen said they will need a county wide campaign to make the events center a reality. The entire county will have to buy into it. It was mentioned at this time by Bryan Erickson the coming of the Arapeen Trail and how Ferron is a perfect jumping off spot for access to the mountains and also the desert. "We need to capitalize on what we do have in the county, horses or whatever and take advantage of it," he said.
Mayor Larsen encouraged committee members as they are traveling to visit some of the other facilities in the state. Bob Bennett mentioned an Angus show they are going to in a similar facility in Cedar City.
Truman said they should know by the first of June the status of the grant money for the feasibility study. It was determined the committee would meet at that time.
Paul Crawford said, "Don't get discouraged if this moves along slowly. Many projects have a slow start. The salinity project that we started is now almost complete. We had a lot of people who said we couldn't do it and a lot of people who didn't see the benefits and the need for it. Now Emery is going forth with a project and Carbon County is still working on theirs and Huntington is starting to buy in. These things can be done. It takes time and don't let the naysayers discourage you."
Whittle said, "I think we should set our goals high and keep them high. Big goals will help our city, communities and county. It would be a nice thing for the county. The stock show is a highly successful and established event and we need to get behind it."
Gordon Bennett reiterated the need for the people to get behind them. Mayor Larsen said they are going for the grand idea and won't take no for an answer and they will keep after it. They want to add to economic development and it can be done. "That's our course," he said.
Committee members and their affiliations are: Ferron Mayor Garth Larsen, Bob Bennett is on the livestock show board and lives in Elmo. Donna Sorensen from Ferron is on the Ferron Beautification Committee, Phil Funk from Ferron is in the "Over the Hill Gang" riding club and the Emery County Racing Association, Gordon Bennett from the Ferron City Council, Brett Behling, concerned Ferron citizen, Eldon Whittle, from Ferron who is active in 4-H and is the President of the Emery County Horse Council, Paul Crawford who described himself as the 'original, concerned citizen' is also from Ferron, Wade Allinson, from the ATV club, David Hinkins, from Orangeville, owner of the Rainbow Glass Ranch who also races horses, Dennis Worwood, county extension agent from Ferron, Bryan Erickson, from the Ferron City Council, Larry Winn from Ferron with the Emery County Racing Association and Diane Bott from Castle Dale who has been active in the stock show.
Mayor Larsen said they are interested in some representation from Huntington and Cleveland residents if any of them are interested to please contact Ferron City.