Commissioners give OK for water grant at fairgrounds

ALPENA – The Alpena County Fair Board wants to install water hookups at the county fairgrounds’ camp sites, and will ask Community Foundation of Northeast Michigan for a grant to do so.

Alpena County Board of Commissioners gave the fair board the OK to apply for a $3,000 grant from CFNEM. Fair board member Karie Bleau told commissioners the plan is to bring water service to all 69 camp sites.

Commissioners approved the application unanimously, with Mark Hall and Tom Mullaney absent. Chairman Cameron Habermehl said the grant could give a boost to the fair board’s efforts to improve the fairgrounds, and added he’s pleased with the results so far.

“They’ve done an excellent job, they’ve improved that fairground 100 percent from where it was,” he said.

Without the grant, there are no other funding options available to add water to the camp sites, according to the application. The idea is to make these sites more convenient and inviting for visitors to use them.

These sites are available to the public for a fee during warmer months. Each one already has electrical hookups, and visitors with horses can use the boarding barn and arena when available, according to the county website. Twelve are on the Thunder Bay River, and there are two boat launches nearby.

Overall, the project is expected to cost $7,813.49, according to the grant application. That number includes the value of 130 hours of volunteer labor, arranged by the Alpena County Agricultural Society Board of Directors. It also includes the value of trenching equipment Hall would lend. The $3,000 would be used to buy the pipes, spigots and other plumbing, and the society would provide a match of $885.29. No county money would be spent on the project.

If the fair board secures the grant, work is expected to begin in May, according to the grant application.

Habermehl also said he’s pleased the fair board is in better fiscal shape than before. A few years ago, the board owed the county thousands of dollars for utility bills. The county had been paying the bills with the understanding that the board would reimburse the cost. Since then, the board has paid back the county, even doing so sooner than they had originally thought.

“They’ve actually been making money, and that’s something they’ve never done,” he said.

In other business:

  • commissioners approved paying a bill for $280 for the labor required to repair a rooftop unit on Northern Lights Arena, with the money to come from NLA surcharge funds.
  • commissioners approved a consent agenda including an appointment of Barbara Cornell to the Department of Human Services Board until the end of December 2016, renewing two agreements for extension services with Michigan State University for $39,879 for 2014, and a $25,822.56 service agreement with Tele-Rad to cover service on the county’s emergency dispatch radio system, among other items.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at