Sales and marketing coordinator yet to be hired

When the sales and marketing coordinator for the Wayne County Fairgrounds is hired, that person will have five priorities on their to-do list.

Wayne County’s commissioners waited to post the approved and budgeted position until those priorities were identified. A committee involving the county, fairgrounds, 4-H and tourism representatives developed 11 action steps for the fairgrounds, including the five items for the new position.

“The focus is on the facilities that we have, making the necessary repairs and upgrades to those to make that a marketable facility,” said Steve Higinbotham, the county’s director of facilities and development, when presenting the action steps March 15 to Wayne County Council.

In an effort to increase rentals, with an end goal of fairgrounds self-sustainability, a fairgrounds secretary position and part-time position are being converted into the sales and marketing coordinator position, with a budgeted salary of $47,840. The five immediate tasks are:

  • Develop an interactive website for inquiries and a booking portal;
  • Develop and distribute fresh and updated promotional materials;
  • Develop a presence on social media;
  • Develop a lead generation email blast template; and
  • Utilize resources of Purdue Extension and Wayne County Convention and Tourism Bureau to expand rentals with agricultural, trade, hobby groups, expos, collectors, auto clubs and animal organizations.

The committee, which formed after an earlier fairgrounds discussion with commissioners, had six additional steps identified to help develop the fairgrounds. They are:

  • Create tiered leasing options with rates for nonprofit/public entities, for-profit entities and organizations that serve the public good and educational needs of youth;
  • Pursue naming rights opportunities;
  • Update the fairgrounds’ strategic plan;
  • Explore how best to utilize the 24-acre field across Salisbury Road;
  • Evaluate facilities and equipment to determine how they can be utilized and marketed to a broader spectrum of users; and
  • Establish an ongoing process to evaluate progress, make necessary adjustments and determine future goals.

A 10-year, $1 million naming rights deal for First Bank Kuhlman Center and First Bank Expo Hall provides additional funding for fairgrounds improvements. The Kuhlman and Expo Hall exteriors have already been updated and painted for $430,558, along with Expo Hall sidewalk and landscaping improvements for $35,948.

Other projects in the works include new roofs for the Kuhlman building and horse barn projected at $274,000 and HVAC improvements for Kuhlman and Expo Hall anticipated to cost $467,500. Bids are due April 5 for the Expo Hall HVAC system, and the two roofs are planned to be bid together.

Jail health care

Sheriff Randy Retter also presented to the council and commissioners March 15 an upgraded health care plan for Wayne County Jail inmates.

Quality Correctional Care submitted a $572,736 quote for a reduced level of service inadvertently requested when the county sought proposals for 2023 care. As an alternative, QCC, which received $531,204 for 2022’s care, proposed steps that would match the 2022 care level plus increase mental health care, keep specific personnel to administer medications, add additional administrative hours and provide dental service to replace the jail’s retired dentist. That would cost an additional $206,000.

With personnel to administer medications and additional administrative hours, the provided nurses would have more time with patients. The hope is that would decrease the number of transports to hospitals and reduce jail overtime. Retter said 45% of jail overtime is accrued escorting inmates for medical treatment.

The reduced care level would likely mean the jail’s health care would lose its accreditation, Retter said.

The previous contract expired Jan. 31, but QCC continues to provide care, which enabled the council to delay action so it could receive written explanations of its options.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 29 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.