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Warren County takes another step toward new fairgrounds event center

Warren County has selected Conger Construction Group to design a $3 million event center at the county fairgrounds.

The county commissioners authorized Administrator Tiffany Zindel to negotiate a construction contract with Lebanon-based Conger on the project.

Conger is expected to work with the project architects, McGill Smith Punshon, according to Deputy County Administrator Martin Russell. “Then we’ll have an idea where we stand,’’ Russell said. They will “let us know if we’re within that $3 million budget.”

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The fairgrounds is undergoing a major makeover, prompted by the end of the harness racing era at the facility in downtown Lebanon. The county has committed $4.5 million to the project, $3 million from the owners of the Miami Valley Gaming racino and $1.5 million from state racetrack redevelopment funds.

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The Lebanon Planning Commission is reviewing plans for the event center to be built where grandstands stood until they were demolished earlier this summer.

The planning commission is expected to discuss the event center at its meeting on Sept. 19, according to Lebanon City Planner Meredith Snyder.

The plans were orignally scheduled for review by the Lebanon Planning Commission on July 18, but the county requested the session be postponed, Snyder said.

The county must meet city standards for a conditional use of the property. Rules for this use required advanced notice pushing the planning session to Sept. 19, according to Snyder.

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The county expects the event center to be in place early next summer, in time for use during the county fair in July 2018.

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The 97-acre fairgrounds includes a series of barns, several of which have been added or upgraded. While horse racing has moved to the Miami Valley Gaming racino west of Lebanon, horses are stabled in barns off the backstretch of the track.

The fairgrounds is owned by county commissioners, but state law gives the county’s agricultural society, better known as the fair board, final say over what goes on there. The two are working together on the redevelopment, including the event center project.

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