West Liberty's 4-H groups and FFA participants may have a new swine building to house their mud-loving creatures for show.
Farm Bureau president Doug Nolte on Friday presented a $20,000 check to the fairgrounds to be used toward the renovation or replacement of the 1918 structure and its unique three-tiered roof.
The fair's secretary and manager, Lori Gosenberg, and others agreed that the swine building is in desperate need of repairs or replacement.
"After much research, the board has decided that phase one of this project will be to purchase portable pens which can be used in the existing building and moved to a new building," Gosenberg said.
According to Gosenberg, during the 2012 fair a few pigs got out of their pens due to the condition of the swine building. A total of 120 new pens are needed with a price tag of $450 each.
"New trestles were added recently, but that took up $8,000 alone," Gosenberg said.
She estimated that the cost of the materials for the renovations is far more than the cost of a new structure.
Gosenberg said a forensic structural engineer paid an unofficial visit and told the board materials to renovate the building would run near $150,000, minus the cost of labor such as moving dirt and doing cement work. To build a new structure would cost around $125,000, plus labor.
"The Muscatine County Fair Board is a very hard working board and has saved us many dollars in labor over the years but a project of this magnitude is more than they would be able to handle along with their regular jobs," she said.
The Melick Foundation chipped in another $20,000 for the project, hoping the public would take more notice. Jerry Melick said his parents have fond memories of the fair and would hate to see everything shut down.
"The fairgrounds are an important part of West Liberty and that is why Mom and Dad were happy to support the building maintenance," Melick said. "It's an impressive fairgrounds and if you go around Iowa you can see that."
The board is currently up in the air about plans to rebuild or repair the swine building.
"I would say the board is leaning toward a new building, but that could change," Gosenberg said.
Nolte said the board has done everything it can thus far to keep the building safe.
"But there comes a point in time where we either need to get this building completely overhauled or put up a new one," he said.
Swine building in need of repairsMary Atkinson · Thursday, April 4, 2013