BY MELANIE BUCK – firstname.lastname@example.org
A two-year long project has come to fruition for the Polk County Extension Homemakers Club. A new sidewalk now rounds the northwest side of the Education Building at the Polk County Fairgrounds thanks to the Extension Homemakers Club, or EHC, as they are also known.
For two years, Nancy Philpot has headed up the project that she said was for the convenience and safety of those who use the facilities. “When we approached the Fair Board and asked if we could do this project, we told them we wanted to improve the appearance of the area around the building, but most of all to provide safety for all fair exhibitors and others who park in the rear lot and have to traverse this area,” explained Philpot.
With the permission of the Polk County Fair and Rodeo Association, who owns the property, the EHC began raising money by way of several rummage sales and a quilt raffle. There were also individual donations made as well as a $1,000 donation from the Polk County Master Gardeners and a $250 donation made by Farm Bureau.
The Education Building at the Fairgrounds is used by several organizations including EHC, Master Gardeners, Polk County 4H, and county school children. “We had more than 1,000 entries in this building this year at the fair,” said EHC member Kim Hughes. Dances are also held in the building by the Polk County Fair and Rodeo Association during rodeos and the fair.
“It is actually the oldest building here at the fairgrounds,” Hughes explained. “This building was built sometime around the 1940’s or 50’s and had an addition on the back and air conditioning throughout added around 15 years ago. There are a lot of people who use this building and we would like for it to be a nice building and also a safe building.”
The sidewalk was built by Jerhome Waddle, of Waldron, at a total cost of $5,650. The sidewalk stretches from the front door of the building, rounding the side to run along between the Education Building and the ‘Chicken and Rabbit’ building. The sidewalk was built high to help curb some of the flooding issues that occur between the two buildings. A drainage pipe was also built into the sidewalk to help divert water properly and it has ramps to make it ADA compliant.
“It was so needed. It always rains at least once during the fair and it would get muddy where people had to walk through to bring in their exhibits,” said Hughes. She also explained that the Fair Board is a 501c(3) and doesn’t receive state or federal funding so it’s sometimes a challenge to keep up with the demands of the fairgrounds. That’s one reason the Polk County EHC wanted to help, they use the facilities and help is needed to keep the property up and this was their way of helping out.
“It’s very nice to see it completed,” said Philpot. “It’s a great addition to the property. We want to thank all of the generous donors who helped us.” EHC also plans to submit their project to the state EHC for a chance at statewide recognition for their efforts.