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Benton County Fairgrounds improvements suggested

The volunteer board charged with helping guide improvements at the Benton County Fairgrounds recommends a better website, more signs around the community and some other changes to enhance the site.

The five-member Fairgrounds Improvement Board developed the recommendations over the last several months. The group was created in 2012 and is completing its first full year.

An upgraded fairgrounds website tops the recommendation list. R.J. Lott, an associate county planner who acts as board coordinator, said an improved website would increase the fairgrounds' "virtual curb appeal."

"Whenever people want more information on anything these days, the first thing they do is jump on (the Internet)," Lott told county commissioners during a meeting Tuesday. "If the fairgrounds is going to be a viable facility and compete with other facilities in the area for business, then having that website is essential."

The improvement board also recommends adding more signs in the community for the fairgrounds, beautification of the parking lot, extending water to the south and east parts of the grounds, which would allow for more overnight camping spots, increase landscaping options and cut down on blowing dust, installation of a public address system and wifi for the facility.

Lott said the projects were chosen because they could have a big effect without exorbitant cost. Commissioners adopted the list of recommendations and indicated they'd like to see them happen.

Also Tuesday:

Commissioners indicated they want to reassess some partnerships with Franklin County, namely for human services and some aspects of the juvenile justice program.

"There definitely need to be some changes," said Commissioner Shon Small, chairman of the board.

The topic is expected to be discussed during a bicounty meeting planned for next month.

Commissioner Jerome Delvin raised the idea of Benton County taking over the juvenile justice building and employees, making facility improvements and labor negotiations easier.

Small said he thinks it makes sense to start with the human services department, where a frustrating deadlock between the two counties recently developed over a proposed lease.

The department administrator brought forward a lease for a new site for the crisis response unit and homeless housing team. The larger Benton County liked the agreement and signed off, but Franklin County didn't and instead wanted to hire a commercial real estate broker to help find a spot.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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