DEWEY — The future of the Washington County Fairgrounds took center stage Tuesday during a forum between two candidates for Washington County District 1 commissioner at Dewey High School.


The forum was presented by the Copan and Dewey FFA chapters, moderated by Copan FFA President Cooper Donaho and Dewey FFA President Kaylee Rolph, and featured incumbent Washington County District 1 Commissioner Mitch Antle and challenger Tom Scott.


Antle said the Washington County Fairgrounds serves a great purpose for 4H and FFA programs, but could be put to better use as well.


“My intent with the fairgrounds — a long-term goal — is I would really like to see us move to a concept of an expo center, and that was one of my long-term visions, but I don’t believe we are going to get there,” Antle said. “We’ve tried three times as a community, and each time that particular concept turns into something else when we get other entities involved.”


Antle said Washington County has been able to use some funding that was rolled over from a grant account to handle some of the heat and air issues at the fairgrounds, but much more work needs to be done.


“I’d like to see some interior changes and some increased marketability of the facility,” he said.


Scott said the fairgrounds facility has never been a priority for the county and maintenance issues are piling up.


“I would budget more for the county fairgrounds because I want to keep up the maintenance on it,” Scott said. “I want to do some improvements on the inside, and I’m not going to wait four years to do it. I want to start it immediately.”


The fairgrounds should “maintain itself and pay its own bills,” Scott said.


“We’re not in the business for making money. I’m sorry to say, the county is in the business for spending money,” Scott said. “I believe in the fairgrounds, and it’s got a lot of history behind it. I’ve talked to a few people, and I would hate to see it disappear, but in turn, if this [sic] fairgrounds is self-sufficient, it could pay its own bills. If it gets to the point where it is self-sufficient, we could save money on it and start planning on a good expo.”