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Bids put new Clark fairgrounds barn price at $1.3 million

Contractor bids have been awarded for the new multi-purpose livestock barn at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Neillsville and work on the project is expected to begin as soon as this year’s county fair ends in August. Meanwhile, a fund drive continues to raise enough money to cover half of the new building construction costs.

The county’s Forestry & Parks Committee awarded bids for the project on March 17, with most of the work going to local contractors. RZ Builders of Loyal will be the main contractor on the job for construction and concrete work, at $736,250. Anderson Electric of Spencer won the electric and fire alarm work, for $124,677. Fire suppression system installation will be handled by Integrity Fire Suppression LLC, at $57,383. Other bids awarded last week include Sav-Rite Building Supply of Neillsville to provide trusses, for $70,000, and Mound View Garage Doors of Neillsville to provide doors, for $30,500.

The bids for the building construction part of the project total $1,018,810, which was a bit higher than the anticipated cost of $930,000, according to Forestry and Parks Department Administrator Rick Dailey. There were six bidders for the main building part of the job.

Also awarded last week were bids for the site preparation work. The main contract goes to Earth Inc. of Arpin for $322,624.

The Earth Inc. contract for the civil site work involves a variety of work, from installing a water line from U.S. Highway 10 to the new building, to removal and replacement of fill material at the building site, to drainage work and construction of a required retention pond.

The first part of the project will be removal of three current horse barns west of the main horse show ring, and the beef barn that sits to the south of the 4-H food stand and Fair Board office building. That will begin as soon as this year’s fair ends on Aug. 9. The new structure will be built where the old horse barns now stand. Some preparatory site work needs to be done once the barns are removed.

“There’s a fair amount of fill that has to be moved,” Dailey said. “That material that they dumped there (years ago) is not suitable to build on.”

Earth Inc.’s contract calls for removal of 68 tons of fill material, and then replacing it with better material. The site is to be ready for footing and walls by Nov. 1, so construction work can start in spring “so everything will be completed before the fair in 2021,” Dailey said.

The financing plan for the project had called for half of the $930,000 building construction cost to be paid with a combination of cash and in-kind donations. Dailey said that plan will now be revised so donations cover half of the $1,018,810 actual cost.

“We’ve met the threshold for the original amount that we’re raising, or very close to it,” Dailey said. “We’re still raising money for half the building. There’s been some really nice sizable donations for this.”

One fundraiser that continues is the “150 Club.” In commemoration of the county fair’s 150th year in 2022, donors are being asked to give $150 per year over the next three years, for a total of $450. Those donations are being accepted through the Clark County Community Foundation Inc., which is coordinating the fund-raising efforts, Clark County will be paying for half the building costs, plus the $313,000 site work costs. That work was originally estimated at approximately $177,000.

Dailey said more discussion will take place on funding the higher-than-expected overall project costs.

“It came in higher than budgeted. I’ll have to have that discussion with Finance Committee next week,” Dailey said.

Once completed, the new multi-purpose livestock barn will house the beef, sheep, hogs and possibly goats during the annual county fair. The building will include a show arena, so the annual judging for all those species will take place in one location, rather than the three separate areas in which they are now held. Also, the annual large livestock sale will be held in the new building. Now, the sale is held in the show arena in the dairy barn, which means sellers have to bring their hogs, sheep and steers to the arena from other locations.

The new barn is part of a larger fairgrounds revitalization plan developed in the last few years. Other work has been accomplished in recent years, including extensive paving, upgrading of lights, and conversion of the former racetrack area into parking. Another new building to be used as a multi-purpose event center is also part of that long-range plan, but Dailey said no work has yet gone into that phase.

“At this point, this (barn) is our focus,” he said. “We’ll look at something down the road. This is the priority.”