EVANSTON — Questions have been raised over the purchase of panels to replace the damaged ones at the Uinta County Fairgrounds rodeo arena. Following an anonymous tip to the Herald, Uinta County Public Works Director Clay Baird was able to shed light on the situation.
An ad hoc committee made up of stakeholders — members from the fair board, Cowboy Days committee and others who use the arena and grounds — has been appointed to oversee the repairs at the rodeo grounds. They were appointed to monitor the corrections and modifications and to interact with the commissioners concerning what repairs need to be done. The main goals at this time were the corrals, the holding pens and the lighting.
“The committee has worked very hard and I don’t want to throw rocks,” Baird said, “but they just got ahead of themselves and made promises to some panel companies without first following the necessary protocol required by the commissioners.”
Baird said there are state funds involved from the State Consensus Grant Fund, so it is imperative to follow the state statute in purchasing the panels.
Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson-Kallas said the committee is working well and doing a good job.
“They just didn’t check with the commissioners as much as they needed to,” Howieson-Kallas said. “They had a drawing done and had solicited bids without following county policy, which actually mirrors the state statute.”
She said that if the purchasing for panels and other repairs were less than $35,000, it would have been in line with county policy. However, the cost is well over that amount. At the commissioners’ work session, Uinta County Clerk Amanda Hutchinson recognized there was an issue and that county policy required the sanction of the commissioners and a formal bidding process.
“There was no harm meant, they are laymen and it was a misunderstanding,” Howieson-Kallas said. “We want to recognize the good work the committee has done and not focus on this. No harm done and no foul play.”
The Uinta County Commissioners, following protocol, placed ads requesting bids for the panels, gates, posts and connectors for the stock pens in the Herald last month.