Concerns raised about annual motocross event

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Dubois County Council members shared comments and concerns they have heard about the motocross race that was held at the 4-H Fairgrounds late last month.

A race was held July 29 as part of the Dubois County 4-H Fair. Council members were assured that the plan is to only have a race during fair time.

Councilwoman Charmian Klem said Monday that she has since heard concerns from people who don’t live near the fairgrounds.

“They were expressing displeasure with the fact that it was decided not to have any motocross races, and then have one during the fair,” she told Jake Memmer, treasurer of the 4-H Council, during a review of the council’s 2019 budget funding request Monday afternoon.

“I think that was a good compromise,” Klem added. “But I think the question for those people was, ‘Is that going to be the end of it? Are we going to stop at the one race during the fair?’”

Council President Jerry Hunefeld brought up the motocross race during the county council’s daylong meeting to review the county’s proposed 2019 budget. He said that residents had contacted council members about the July 29 race, and some of them were not happy with the event.

“We want to be good neighbors,” he said. “So if there are neighbors in the area that are upset about this, then I think we need to address that.”

Last fall, the 4-H Council considered installing a motocross track at the fairgrounds to hold races once a month during the motocross season, which runs from March to October. That consideration was met with opposition by the fairgrounds’ neighbors, most of them living north of the venue in Buechler Countrywood Estates. They were opposed to the location of the track, citing concerns with environmental issues, like excess noise and smells from emissions, and public safety problems. The council considered holding races at the grandstand, but the neighbors were still opposed for the same reasons.

After several meetings and discussions with neighbors, the council decided in January to not install the track at that time.

Afterward, Outlaw MX requested having one race during the fair. That was discussed with neighbors, and then approved by the 4-H council, Memmer explained Monday. “We’ve found that a lot of times, (the neighbors) are OK with things that happen during the fair,” he said.

The 4-H council has no plans to add more races, Memmer said. The land on which the track was created has been seeded with grass to take it back to its natural state.

“It is only a fair event, meaning that it takes place during or around the fair. We don’t have any plans at this time to do anything different,” Memmer told the county council. “What we decided to do is let them put the track in and do an event associated with the fair.”

Jan Dougan of Purdue Extension mentioned that almost 120 young people participated in the July 29 event.

“There are a lot of youth that don’t participate in other sports. They don’t participate in other activities,” she said. “Some people don’t see this as a positive event. But if you can get youth excited about something and doing something they enjoy, they aren’t going to be doing other detrimental things. We have to think about our youth, and what activities we can provide to them.”

Councilman Mike Kluesner, who lives in Buechler Countrywood Estates, said that comfort and concerns of nearby neighbors are important as well.

“There are a lot of activities going on just about every weekend for youth. It’s not fair to jeopardize the peace and quality of life of the people who live around there,” he said. “Once a year is fine. I’m all for the youth; I’d do anything for the youth. But we have to look at the quality of life for all people.”

Memmer said the 4-H council’s challenge is to become more self-sufficient financially so that it can reduce the amount of money it requests from the county, which is what county officials have requested.

“To reduce our dependency on that, we have to seek alternatives. The alternatives are to utilize the ground to produce income,” he said. “What we’ve found is that people like things that are loud and move. Most events we can make money off of are not quiet.”

County council members also said the county would like to have a representative or two on the board. The 4-H council has a 99-year lease with the county for the fairgrounds’ land. Through that, the 4-H council makes the decisions on how the land is used; it does not need county approval.

Memmer said that county representation would be welcomed by the 4-H council. He added that the people would have be dedicated to helping at the fairgrounds and with events. 4-H council members do a lot of work that goes beyond attending monthly meetings, he explained.

Commissioner Elmer Brames said that getting representation on the board will be discussed, including the legal ramifications for making that happen. The plan was to discuss the matter after the county fair was done, he said. Kluesner added that a review of the lease agreement should be a part of the discussion, in case that needs to be amended to allow for county representation.




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