Local government

Fair board inches forward on effort to find new manager

ONTARIO – The Malheur County Fair Board moved slightly ahead on a plan to hire a new fairgrounds manager and decided to choose one of its own to be the grounds keeper for a short period during a special meeting Monday, June 5.

The board also authorized Jennifer Forsyth, Malheur County treasurer, to work in the fairgrounds office several days each week to help with office duties.

The special meeting was called just weeks after former fairgrounds manager Dawnita Haueter was fired. After Haueter’s termination, the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it was investigating “discrepancies in bookkeeping” at the fairgrounds.

Haueter was supervised by the six-member fair board that includes chairman Dave Tschida, co-chair Helen Thomas, Jen Hall, Leanna Elguezabal, Chris Johnston and Garrett Chamberlain.

The board meeting was unusual because it was attended by four top county officials – Forsyth, Commissioner Ron Jacobs, Counsel Stephanie Williams and Administrator Lorinda DuBois.

The board asked DuBois to review the fair manager job description and make any necessary revisions. DuBois also presented several funding scenarios for the caretaker and fair manager position. So far, the board has not settled on a salary for the fair manager. The position will be discussed again at the next fair board meeting set for Monday, June 19.

Once the board decides on a salary range and the job description, the county will begin to advertise the position. Haueter earned a salary of about $45,000 a year.

The timing of filling the job isn’t clear. The annual fair opens Aug. 1.
The board also approved appointing Tschida as the groundskeeper at the fairgrounds until mid-August at $18 an hour.

The Malheur County Court was to review Tschida’s recommendation Wednesday, June 7, but Tschida asked that the recommendation be delayed because he wanted to give his decision for the job more time. He said last week he intends to sign a temporary contract with the county for the job.

“I don’t want to do it long term. I am just here now to fill in,” said Tschida.

Tschida has been volunteering to do grounds keeping for the past few weeks.

The board and county official also discussed bookkeeping and security issues.

Williams told the board she’d already identified more than 20 items that needed to be reviewed, including finding two missing Home Depot credit cards.

“We need more protocols and a lot more checks and balances,” Williams said.

Williams told the board it should inventory the safe in the main office and replace it, use a lockbox for cash, establish a camping fee schedule, a cash handling policy and a credit card usage policy.

“We’d like to tighten up security and anything that has anything to do with money and bookkeeping and we’d like to make it better,” Thomas said after the meeting.

Until now, said Thomas, cash transactions were recorded only through hand receipts.

Thomas declined to comment on the missing Home Depot credit cards. County officials said last week so far there has been no activity on the two missing credit cards. The cards were canceled by the county.

The board also decided to begin using a QuickBooks bookkeeping computer program at the fairgrounds and is considering installing a counter in the fair office for security.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Previous coverage:

Malheur County Fairgrounds manager is fired

Fair board set to tackle task to fill vacant manager position

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