Fairgrounds scheduled to receive big funding boost from Oregon Legislature

A drone view of the Malheur County Fairgrounds in Ontario last summer. The fairgrounds is in line to receive $2 million from the state for infrastructure upgrades. (The Enterprise/FILE)

ONTARIO – The Malheur County Fairgrounds is in line for a surprise $2 million from the state to be used to improve the grounds.

Fairgrounds across the region are on track to receive a huge infusion of state funds to help spur infrastructure upgrades.

State lawmakers at the Oregon Legislature are expected to approve a $1.4 billion budget bill that will deliver cash to an array of different agencies, including $12 million for county fairs in Crook, Malheur, Grant, Harney Baker and Lake counties.

The funding proposal is part of House Bill 5202, which moved through the Joint Ways and Means Committee Monday, Feb. 28, and is now in the House for final approval.

Each county fairground will receive $2 million, said state Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane.

“It’s huge. It was one of the things, given the opportunity, I chose to look for, for investments. There is not a fairground that cannot use that money,” said Owens.

Dawnita Haueter, Malheur County Fairgrounds manager, said she had not received any specifics on the money yet but the extra funds are needed and welcome.

“It would be amazing,” said Haueter.

Haueter said the funds from the state could be used for a host of projects at the fairgrounds.

“Honestly there would be all kinds of upgrades,” she said.

Malheur County Judge Dan Joyce said the state money marks a triumph for the region.

“Any time you get any money from west to east it is a pretty hard drive. Anything we can get here is quite a jump,” said Joyce.

Owens said the if House Bill 5202 is passed it will deliver “much needed investment,” in his House district. Owens represents House District 60, which includes Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur counties and a piece of Lake County.

Owens said the money should reach individual counties in “only a couple of months.”

“There should not be any lengthy time constraints on it,” he said.

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