By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
What stood for over 60 years came down in a matter of hours.
On Feb. 4, the youth arena, fair office and floral exhibit hall on the Madison County Fairgrounds were demolished, making way for a new arena and com-munity building slated to be finished by June 1.
Brian Hunter, an excavator from West Jefferson, donated his time to tear down the old buildings.
“That’s a big money saver,” said Dar-rell Champer, president of the Junior Fair Sale Committee, which is spear-heading the building project.
Another potential money saver is the re-use of the youth arena’s existing bleachers. Hunter went about the arena’s demolition carefully in order to preserve the bleachers. The sale committee is waiting on approval for modifications that would bring the bleachers up to today’s code standards.
“That’s a $60,000 to $70,000 savings. Even though we’ll need to modify them, it’s still a lot cheaper than buying them new. They’re darn good bleachers,” Champer said.
Also salvaged from the buildings were heating and cooling equipment, doors, lighting and other materials that will be used in other places on the fairgrounds.
With the exception of the bleachers, everything about the new youth arena and adjoining community building will be new. In addition to bathrooms, the project includes changing rooms with showers.
The arena will be completely open, with no support poles to block views. Gates will be moveable and removable to accommodate a wide variety of uses for the building.
“It will be quieter, cooler, a lot brighter and a lot larger (than the old arena),” Champer said.
The community building will feature meeting space for 4-H, FFA and fair-related activities and will be open for use by other community groups. The building also will include office space.
With the old buildings down, construction of the new ones is scheduled to start within the next couple of weeks. Golden Giant Building Systems, a company out of Kenton, Ohio, is doing the work.
The plan is to have the buildings finished five weeks before the 2014 Madison County Fair, which runs July 6-12.
The cost of the project is approximately $500,000. Unlike the original buildings, which were funded by a tax levy, the new ones are the result of a massive grassroots fundraising effort matched 2-to-1 by county funds.
“We are on par for our budget,” Cham-per said of the fundraising progress.
Among the major donors is M.H. Eby Inc. of West Jefferson, which is working with the sale committee on a name for the new arena.
For those interested in making a donation to the project, checks may be sent in care of the Madison County Sale Committee Building Fund to P.O. Box 650, London, OH 43140. Questions may be directed to Darrell Champer at (614) 743-7441 or Doug Peterman at (614) 206-5553.
The Junior Fair Sale Committee meets at 7:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month. Now that the fair office is gone, they are meeting at the Union Township Hall, 2250 State Route 56, London (across from the Madison Lanes bowling alley). Meetings are open to the public.