Woodward, Okla. —
Supporters of the proposed renovations to the Woodward County Fairgrounds are pleased that county voters have approved a half-cent sales tax that will fund the estimated $12.4 million improvement project.
But perhaps none more so than Chamber President and Fairgrounds Improvement Authority member C. J. Montgomery.
"I'm delighted," Montgomery said. "I'm delighted for the Chamber members. I'm delighted for the young people. I'm delighted for the residents not only of Woodward and Woodward County but also throughout the region in Texas and Kansas, because those people will enjoy this expanded facility and will utilize it."
The proposed renovations call for the removal of some of the older barns and an office building at the fairgrounds complex, updates to 2 of the current larger fair barns that will remain, and the construction of a new 60,000 square foot, multipurpose expo center.
The costs of the improvements will be funded by a countywide half-cent sales tax, which was approved by almost 60 percent of the more than 1,400 voters who cast a ballot in Tuesday's election.
Montgomery said the 858 voters who approved the sales tax measure did "the right thing."
"The residents of Woodward and Woodward County will always step up and do the right thing, and they did that yesterday with their votes," he said in an interview with The News on Wednesday afternoon.
"They showed that they recognize the need and are willing to share in a small portion of the cost to meet that need," Montgomery said. "They also showed that they accept the responsibility of Woodward being a regional center and our responsibility to have those facilities and venues that allow us to serve as a regional center."
The Chamber president said the improved and larger fairgrounds complex will "open so many new doors" when it comes to bringing more events to Woodward, such as "national breed associations (for livestock shows), indoor motor sports, boat shows and RV shows."
"We will build it and they will come," Montgomery said.
The half-cent sales tax will go into effect later this year, around late spring, early summer.
Projections based on a review of the county's sales tax collections over the past few years estimate that the county should be able to pay off the improvement costs within 13 years.
Once the construction costs are paid off, the new sales tax will drop down to a tenth of a cent so that it can continue to generate an estimated $250,000 a year to help cover maintenance and operation costs for the new and improved facilities.
County Commissioners Tommy Roedell and Vernie Matt were not available for comment Wednesday as they were attending seminars in Oklahoma City, according to the commission secretary.