County fair planning moves into high gear



The problem solvers. (front row, from left) county fair coordinators Kelly Doty and Joan Epps; (back row, from left) District 3 Commissioner Dean Calvert, Revenue Commissioner Gregg Armstrong, Oneonta Mayor Ross Norris, Agri-Business Board chairman Jeff Hallmark, Oneonta public works director Rodney Wall, Probate Judge/Commission Chairman Chris Green, and Oneonta city manager Ed Lowe.

The problem solvers. (front row, from left) county fair coordinators Kelly Doty and Joan Epps; (back row, from left) District 3 Commissioner Dean Calvert, Revenue Commissioner Gregg Armstrong, Oneonta Mayor Ross Norris, Agri-Business Board chairman Jeff Hallmark, Oneonta public works director Rodney Wall, Probate Judge/Commission Chairman Chris Green, and Oneonta city manager Ed Lowe.

The resignation of Agri-Business Center executive director Keith Hamby on July 12 wasn’t particularly good news for Oneonta, Blount County, or the Agri-Business Center board of directors. With only three months to go before the county fair– arguable the county’s biggest public event – the crucial planning job was vacant. But the three agencies joined hands to turn a potential setback into an opportunity for unusual collegiality and cooperation.

The solution they forged was to designate two fair committee co-coordinators to handle the brunt of fair planning and preparations. One is Oneonta city hall receptionist Joan Epps, an old hand at planning from her previous job as Agri-Business Center secretary/ bookkeeper. The second is Kelly Doty, a property tax clerk in the county revenue office who was raised on a produce and cattle farm (with a few horses on the side), and just happens to have an animal science degree from Auburn University to boot.

Joan Epps will remain on the job at Oneonta City Hall, but has been charged with providing advice and assistance based on her experience as much as needed during the 90 days leading up to and immediately following the Sept. 17 – 21 Blount County Fair. Kelly Doty will be in place at the Agri-Business Center office during that period to provide on-site direction and coordination as needed.

All parties emphasized that fair planning is going forward on schedule and a highquality fair will result, as usual. The two coordinators will assist and guide the efforts of a 20-member committee to bring the event to fruition.

Jeff Hallmark, chairman of the Agri- Business board, said the board “greatly appreciates the dedication of the Blount County Commission and the city of Oneonta to help make the 2013 county fair the very best ever. They’re working together to get the Agri-Business Center in top-notch condition. Citizens passing by will see fresh-cut grass, trimmed shrubbery, and additional gravel added to the midway areas. Inside, the building is getting a fresh coat of paint and other sprucing up.”

All parties to the meeting of minds leading to the dual-coordinators solution agreed that the arrangement is a perfect model and opportunity for the three county entities to show the county how such agencies should work together to benefit citizens. All agreed to pitch in wholeheartedly to get the remaining work done to produce a banner year for the county fair.

“We’re all in the problem-solving business,” said Probate Judge/Commission Chairman Chris Green. “That’s why we’re here. We’re going to take lemons and make lemonade, and we’re going to have a great fair this year – if the rain ever stops,” he said.

Those wishing to volunteer to help with Agri-Business Center activities may call 274-8839 and speak to Joan or Kelly.