Board looks ahead after burn

The Mower County Board of Commissioners could decide on bids for the new grandstand at the county fairgrounds as early as April 2.

Commissioners voted to set March 28 as the last day they would accept bids on the project to build a metal grandstand, which will include 1,500 seats, seat backs, a roof and a press box, during their meeting Tuesday.

County Engineer Mike Hansen said the county hopes the grandstand will be finished by July 27, just in time for this year’s county fair on Aug. 6-11.

“That’s cutting it pretty close,” said Jerry Reinartz, board chairman. Reinartz expressed concern on whether the board had to accept the lowest possible bid from a company if it meant the fairgrounds wouldn’t be up in time for the Mower County Fair. County Coordinator Craig Oscarson told the board it could accept the lowest responsible bid, if one bid was shown to cost slightly more but save money in the long run or stay within the county’s timetable for the grandstand.

The new 1,500-seat grandstand is estimated to cost about $691,000 for what the county is bidding out thus far. If the county decides to bid out electric sound/speaker upgrades, safety barriers, site work and security fencing, the project is estimated to cost about $776,000 in total.

The board set aside $500,000 in assigned reserve funds toward the project in December, and Oscarson said county officials are asking the Hormel Foundation for a $270,000 grant to cover the rest of the costs. Commissioner Mike Ankeny said the board decided to build a 1,500-seat grandstand after the Mower County Fair Board advised a 1,000-seat grandstand would be too small, and a 2,000 seat grandstand would be difficult to fill. Ankeny said the county could always add on to the grandstand in the future, though he didn’t foresee the need to for some time. The important part, according to Ankeny, is to get the project done by August.

“Hopefully all this goes through so we can proceed and have this in time for the fair,” he said.

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