WOOD COUNTY, W.Va.-(WTAP) Updated: 9/27/2018
The West Virginia Interstate Fair board continues to maintain a sale of part of the fairgrounds land is merely a possibility.
"This is only an idea," Fair President Mike Zoller insisted Thursday, at a meeting of the Wood County Commission. "This is one of four ideas that were discussed."
But Wood County resident Robert Bagley, who says he tried to get elected to the fair board at a recent board meeting, maintains the board made a decision to sell Zoller that land, at $5,000 an acre. Bagley says the land is worth $2.7 million.
"When you divide that 25 acres," he said, "that's a considerable amount of money. $12,000 an acre."
Others at the commission meeting said they made offers of more money for the land. Zoller says the recent discussion of the sale, first brought up in 2007, has to do with the board's finances after this year's fair.
"I reported on how bad it was," Zoller acknowledged. "It was like quicksand this year. It wasn't 100% our fault. It was just a series of events you couldn't write in that way."
The commissioners say, other than providing some funding, they have little to do with the fair's operations.
"We can't tell the fair board what to do, who to do it with, or how to do it," said Commission President Blair Couch. "They're their own corporation."
But they hope the individuals can work out their own differences, possibly making the land sale a more public process.
Couch says the commission has provided the fair $20,000 a year in recent budgets.
Wood County residents told the county commission Thursday about their concerns over a proposed land sale by the West Virginia Interstate Fair board.
The commission told them it provides funding for the annual July fair, but does not have control over its operations.
People at the commission meeting attended the fair board's monthly meeting Monday.
They say the board approved selling fairgrounds property to fair President Mike Zoller.
"The comment was made that 'we made an executive decision'," resident Robert Bagley told the commission, "that three board members met and they approved the sale of the property to Mr. Zoller, without talking about it at the August meeting, or bringing it up at the September meeting."
Following Thursday's meeting, we reached out to Zoller.
He told us the board actually decided on the land sale in 2007, but only if it became necessary, and that the transaction was not discussed again until Monday's meeting.
Zoller adds no final decision on the sale has been made, and, if it was sold, it would only be for agricultural use.
He says the reason for the proposed sale is the fair's finances, describing the 2018 fair as a "terrible year", citing issues with the weather, carnival rides, and Butcher Bend Road.
He describes the property as two pieces of property located near the livestock barn, and generally used for parking.
Zoller says the transaction would be similar to a loan, with the board being able to buy it back from Zoller when it could.
The land in question, says Zoller, is nearly 30 acres, at an appraised value of $5,000 an acre.