MENLO — During heavy rains in April the sawdust would swirl in a wild torrent before funneling down the hallway of the horse barn. When the showers subsided, pools of standing water filled the interior of the sewing, floral and vegetable buildings. In some sections, mold and mildew began claiming interior walls. Only weeks after assuming the manager position for the Pacific County Fair, a reckoning poured over Bill Monohon.
“When the rains came, that’s when I realized all the water problems we had,” Monohon, 64, said. Monohon immediately notified board members, who acknowledged flooding was a frequent problem. Discussions about installing proper drainage — estimated at more than $60,000 — always stalled at the funding stage.
“We just haven’t had the money,” Monohon said.
Sending out a prayer
On April 1, Monohon officially relieved former manager Dotsi Graves. During the transition, Graves gave Monohon paperwork for a potential grant that, if awarded, could provide funding to alleviate the flooding issues plaguing the fairgrounds. The deadline however, was only days away and Monohon admittedly lacked experience in the formal process.
“I never had written a grant in my life,” he said.
Monohon hammered out a few hasty emails and reached out to board member Chuck Poellnitz about potential costs for fixing the problem. Poellnitz, who has a background in construction, estimated the cost at $63,215.
May brings good news
In May, Washington state received $3.3 million in grant requests with only $1.5 million available with priority to those with matching funds.
“We had no matching funds,” Monohon recalled. Despite the circumstances, $53,733 of the $63,215 grant proposal was awarded by Washington state and the Washington State Department of Agriculture Fairs Program.
The grant money is to be used specifically for:
• Water drainage remediation of the sewing building, floral and vegetable buildings and installing French drains
• Connecting downspouts to county drainage system on sewing, floral and vegetable buildings
• Mold and mildew remediation in the storage area and adjoining vegetable building
• Resurfacing all disturbed areas once French drains are installed
The work will be completed by the Pacific County Public Works Department — after the 2018 fair but before the beginning of the rainy season — by June 30, 2019. A second grant of $1,388 by the Mandel family was made to the Friends of the Fair Foundation to reconfigure walkways, repair railings and add shaded bleachers. The work will be completed before the 2018 fair on Aug. 22 through Aug. 25.
“We’re going to bring it up to ADA Americans with Disabilities Act) standards,” Monohon said. “It will make for a better, safer fair.”