LISBON - We knew the county fairgrounds would get a new grandstand.
We now know who will build it.
And for whom it will be named.
With a break in the weather fair board members, Owen Unkefer, Steve Knizat, Robin Houlette, Jim Morris and Scott Stear work at tearing down the old retaining wall and moving dirt in preparation for the geo-tech studies. The studies need to be finished so that they can be submitted to state officials, along with the plans for the new grandstand. (Photo by Patti Schaeffer)
The county fair board announced this week it has received a gift of $300,000 to put toward the estimated $900,000 project.
The gift is from the Green Family Trust, in honor of Arnold C. Green, a lifelong county resident.
According to a press release from the fair board, Green was a "quiet, humble man" who enjoyed bringing his grandson, John C. Green, to the fair each year.
John Green is now 45 and provided the gift on behalf of the family in honor of his grandfather, who was killed in an automobile accident alongside his wife more than 17 years ago.
"It is with very fond memories of the fair and my grandfather that the trust makes a gift at this level ... this partnership with the fair will keep their name alive," he said.
The new grandstand will be named in memory of Arnold C. Green, and fair board member and family friend, Owen Unkefer, remembers him as a "doer, a family man, and the one who introduced John to fair."
In 1946, Arnold Green and his father Charles, were the first Culligan water franchisees in Ohio with multiple locations. Arnold Green also was an executive engineering consultant for the Illinois-based Culligan Corp.
Fair board president John Wolf said the $300,000 gift is possibly the largest in fair history.
"We are incredibly grateful to the Green Family Trust. Mr. Green's memories of the fair and his grandfather are the stuff dreams are made of," he said.
Board director Robin Houlette said in the release that the fair is thrilled with the partnership, but stressed more donations are needed.
"The project continues to seek gifts from the community and we are hoping the momentum created from this gift will draw the community's attention to the fact we still have a long way to go toward reaching the $900,000 budget cost," he said.
Tresa Unkefer, fair board secretary, said Wednesday the First National Bank of Salem has already approved a loan for the project to move forward while funds are being pledged.
"They are a really big supporter and we are really grateful for them jumping on board," she said.
Bank president and CEO Mark Witmer said it didn't take long for the bank to consider the request to support the project.
"We are a community-based bank right here in the area, and when approached with the project it did not take us long to figure out the fair is all about the community," he said.
To date, the project has support from the Columbiana County commissioners, who pledged $20,000 last year, and the fair board has put $150,000 toward the project.
Tresa Unkefer said other smaller donations have come in from other areas, but more help is needed.
The actual construction of the grandstand will be done by Dave York Sports Inc., based in Louisville, Ky. Details of the construction contract are continuing to be worked out, Unkefer said.
The company, one of three to bid on the grandstand project, built the Crestview and United Local stadiums, she added.
Construction is expected to begin in March, with completion of the project slated for the end of May or possibly June.
This year's fair is scheduled for July 28 through Aug. 3.
The project was initiated in November of last year by the 15-member fair board and fund-raising has been organized by Matt Hughes, a Cincinnati based consultant hired by the board for that purpose.
"This is a little piece of Americana," Hughes said in the release. "Never underestimate a good memory or a good person. What the Green Family Trust has agreed to do for the fair is history changing for a very special summertime celebration. My hats off to the fair board for working so hard to keep the tradition alive and important enough to warrant the Green family interest in making a leadership gift."
The Columbiana County Fair has been a summertime favorite event the last 170 years. For more information on the grandstand project, or to donate, go to www.columbianacountyfair.org, or call the fair board office at 330-424-5531.