County to discuss events center

Jack King

While Curry County commissioners prepare to discuss hiring management for the proposed multi-purpose events center on the county fairgrounds, other members of the community are still attempting to challenge the design choice for the building.
On the agenda for today’s meeting of the commission is a request for proposals for a “management consultant” for the center.
Commission Chairman Tim Ashley, a member of the commission’s Multi-purpose Events Center Committee, said while there has been discussion of hiring a private company to manage the center, Wednesday’s discussion will cover all types of management, whether private or on the county payroll.
“We had a meeting of the committee last week and we talked about a management group, but we haven’t made any decisions yet. I think everyone (on the commission) agrees it’s a good idea to have management on board during the construction,” Ashley said.
Although some commissioners have said they want to see the building completed by next year, a date for the start of construction has not been set. The commission awarded a contract for architectural services to LPDJ Architects of Bountiful, Utah, on Aug. 5. It approved an agreement Aug. 19 with Lydick Engineers and Surveyors Inc. for preliminary work on a survey of the county fairgrounds to prepare for determining a site for the building.
Also on today’s agenda is a motion by Commissioner Pete Hulder to indefinitely preserve a recording of the July 1 meeting in which the board chose a concrete dome design for the events center. Normal county policy is to destroy tapes of commission meetings after six months, as long as a written record of the meeting has been made.
“It’s really hard to get the sense of a meeting from the written record. You get the facts, but you can’t get inflections of voice or other details,” Hulder said.
He denied that he has requested that the tapes be preserved because a group of county residents have asked District Attorney Brett Carter to investigate the county’s design decision.
“All I know about that is what I read in the papers. Of course I hear rumors. But, no. It’s something we need to retain and that’s what I’m going to ask for,” he said.
Carter said Aug. 5 that he has assigned an investigator to look into allegations of wrongdoing in connection with the center. He said he was responding to complaints from a group of county residents who came to his office, raising questions about alleged conflicts of interest in choosing the design and awarding the bid for architectural services for the events center.
Eldon Smith, one of the group who visited Carter, said Ashley has a conflict of interest because he owns a concrete company and could profit from the dome’s construction. He said Tuesday the group is still interested in seeing an investigation pursued.
Ashley said Aug. 5 that, while he doesn’t contract with the county, he might sell concrete to someone who would be involved in the event center’s construction.
Carter could not be reached for comment Tuesday.