County to create Fairgrounds Permanent Fund

The Board of Josephine County Commissioners held a first reading for an ordinance that would establish the Fairgrounds Permanent Fund during their May 22 weekly business session at Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass.
It was recently announced that the expensive county-owned building near the Fairgrounds known as the Flying Lark was sold to River Valley Church for their new campus.
Dutch Bros founder Travis Boersma intended to turn the Flying Lark into a legacy horse race gambling and entertainment venue, a prospect that offered exciting revenue-generating opportunities to the community. However, the state of Oregon prohibited the business from being established, citing its similarities to casinos, which can only be operated on Tribal lands. Boersma donated the facility to Josephine County after it became clear that the Flying Lark venture would never get off the ground. River Valley is in the process of purchasing this property for around $9.5 million.
County legal counsel Wally Hicks joined the board to share the details of the Fairgrounds Permanent Fund.
“The board is considering ordinance – ordinance as opposed to resolution – regarding the funds that are anticipated to come into the Fairgrounds by way of selling off the property known as the Flying Lark,” Hicks recapped. “An ordinance is more secure in terms of its resiliency and lasting value than a resolution.”
Hicks went on, “The permanent value of the fund may not be lower than $9 million. This is based upon the $9.5 million sale price of the Flying Lark for cash. The $9 million was identified as the target baseline for the fund because after $9.5 million comes in, the real estate broker gets 2.5% which drops down into the $9.3 million range. And then there’s a lot of scale of $200,000 – $300,000 worth of reimbursement would need to occur to the Property Reserve Fund because of expenses that have accumulated to maintain the Flying Lark while the process of advertising and selling the property has occurred.”
The lawyer then read the definition attributed to the Fairgrounds Permanent Fund: “This fund, the Permanent Fund, shall be an interest-bearing fund with interest automatically reinvested in the fund unless interest is transferred by order of both the Board of County Commissioners and the Recreation Fair Board as needed to be available for these purposes – to construct, acquire, repair, renovate, improve, maintain or replace property improvements at the Josephine County Fairgrounds or to fund fairgrounds operations.
“So this money is entirely devoted to the fairgrounds going forward.”
Hammering home the point, Hicks remarked, “That’s the only purpose with which these funds may be expended.”
He added that after a discussion with the board the previous week, a provision was added allowing for a loan to be taken out of the fund that would make its value lower than $9 million, but it must be paid back in full before another loan can be taken out. That is the only scenario where the fund can fall below $9 million.
The board felt satisfied with the information Hicks presented, raising no questions or concerns when prompted to do so. The vote was 3-0 to advance Ordinance 2024-015 to a second reading June 5.
Three properties were annexed into the Illinois Valley Fire District by petition of landowners during the meeting: a 5.19-acre property on Takilma Rd in Cave Junction owned by David & Lydia Kendall; a 2.55-acre property on Briar Ln in Selma owned by Michael & Sherry Smart; and a 68.65-acre property on West Side Rd in Cave Junction owned by Threegen LLC.
No citizens spoke in favor of or opposition to the annexations during the public hearing, clearing the way for the commissioners to unanimously vote in favor of them.
The same was true of a lone annexation to the Josephine Community Library District. Kenneth & Nina Grayson applied to annex their 0.15-acre property on Kayleigh Wy in Grants Pass into the district, and their application was granted.