Accusations of fair faux pas result in no action

Dawn Sanchez tells commissioners that her child was falsely accused of misconduct at this year’s Uinta County Fair. The fair board, which authorized a letter to Sanchez detailing multiple accusations, apparently agreed; they chose to take no action against the youth in question during a hearing the day after Sanchez complained to commissioners. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — The Uinta County Commissioners meeting on Oct. 5 consisted primarily of the approving and signing of documents, contracts and agreements, except for a last-minute addition to the agenda. Dawn Sanchez requested to be put on the agenda to address the commission regarding a conflict about this year’s Uinta County Fair.

Sanchez said she was concerned about unfair harassment of her child by a county employee, Uinta County Fair Manager Ami Barker. According to Sanchez, Barker sent a letter dated Sept. 23 to Sanchez’ minor child, stating that the child was banned for life from participating in the Uinta County Fair.

“The manager stated that Rules No. 5 and 12 had been broken and my child was accused of badgering the buyer of her pig,” Sanchez said. “None of the allegations were true and I was angry that no communication was directed to me, the parent. My child has a serious heart condition, and stress like this could kill her, so I did not show her the letter. That is why I am coming to you.”

Sanchez provided commissioners with copies of emails and texts between herself and Barker. Sanchez also complained that Barker had discussed the situation at the Wyoming Association of Fairs and spoke her daughter’s name (she is a minor) in a public meeting. Sanchez explained that there was a lot of misinformation and confusion around the pig that the buyer received and that needed to be cleared up. Sanchez said her daughter was accused of delivering a different pig than she sold to that particular buyer.

“I guess what I am asking is for help and for you to investigate,” Sanchez told commissioners. “The buyer needs to be called … and the brand inspector. Also, I think the manager should apologize for spreading false information. The fair board needs to be aware that it is their responsibility to protect minors from false allegations.”

Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson-Kallas then addressed the commission.

“I have made it clear to the fair board that they should never use a child’s name in public meetings,” she said. “The buyer initiated the complaint with the fair board. There were four pigs sent to the same slaughterhouse. We have a hearing tomorrow night with the buyers and sellers to address the issue and what, if any, potential ramifications.”

Howieson-Kallas said the fair board will make recommendations at another hearing and then the county commission can appoint an administrative committee to hear and address the issue.

Uinta County Commissioner Brent Hatch, who is also on the fair board, indicated after the meeting that he cannot comment on an ongoing investigation; however, Howieson-Kallas told the Herald on Thursday that there is no investigation underway. She said the hearing on Oct. 6, the day after the commission meeting, was the proper step to address the allegations, and the letter Sanchez received did not ban her child or anyone else for life.

The letter, which was authorized by a fair board member, described allegations of misconduct by a child exhibitor, along with a list of potential penalties and an explanation that the accused will have a chance to be heard, Howieson-Kallas said. During the Oct. 6 hearing, the fair board determined that taking no action was the most appropriate conclusion to the allegations.

Earlier in the meeting, commissioners approved the request made by Fred Coles of Wasatch Engineering for the transfer of water rights from Aaron and Lyndee Johnson and Troy and Lisa Bradshaw to Uinta County, to be used for dust control by the county road and bridge department.

Public Works Director Clay Baird asked for approval of the progress payment of $20,216 to Straight Stripe Painting Inc. for completion of the 2021 Airport seal coat and pavement markings project at the Fort Bridger Airport. He also stated that the work had been completed and asked the commission to authorize Uinta County Commission Chair Eric South to sign the certificate of substantial completion from Straight Stripe Painting, Inc. That request was approved.

The commission also approved a request by Rick Schuler, representing Southwest Wyoming Off-road Trails (SWOT), for an agreement with the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, Division of State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails to accept a grant of $8,000 for signage, maintenance, stickers and other needs for the trails system. SWOT will provide a 50/50 match in volunteer hours.

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