DA’s office: No wrongdoing found in awarding events center

By Jack King

The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office found no wrongdoing in connection with a design contract awarded for the county’s proposed special events center, District Attorney Brett Carter said Monday.
Area residents asked Carter in July to investigate the contract and the manner in which it was awarded after the commission gave the contract to LPDJ Architects of Bountiful, Utah. The company plans to build a concrete dome-shaped building, which critics claim will not meet community needs.
Carter said Monday neither the proclamation for the special election to approve bonds for the center, nor the election ballot specified what type of building would be built.
“Therefore, the type of structure and its composition would be left to the decision of the Curry County Commission,” Carter said.
The district attorney’s office also found no wrongdoing when it reviewed whether or not the commission violated the state procurement code in awarding the design contract, Carter said.
“The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s (office) found one flaw in that the county’s requests for qualifications left off the words, ‘based proposal.’ A review of the statutes and case law indicate the county was still in compliance with the procurement code,” he said.
Wilma Fulgham, one of the residents who complained to the district attorney, said the group is not finished with its effort to stop the county from building a dome-shaped events center.
“As far as the type of building, the brochure (passed out at the time of the election) certainly did show a type of building and that’s what voters read and thought they were voting for. My opinion and that of others who’ve talked to me is that a dome is not a tried and true type of building for a special events center and Curry County should not be the site of an experiment. I feel that building won’t meet our needs and will be a white elephant,” she said.
James Williams, another member of the group, said “a concrete dome is in no way suited to what it is supposed to do.
“One, the arena floor is going to be excavated below ground. Would you want your daughter riding a horse down onto that floor? It’s the same way with driving cattle down onto the floor. There’s no room in the dome for any pens and you will have to drive cattle in on a concrete ramp,” he said.
Fulgham said the group already has taken “other action” to oppose the events center, but declined to be specific.
Commission Chairman Tim Ashley said he feels the district attorney’s finding shows commission members were working in the best interest of their constituents when they awarded the contract.
“The only intent was to find the most economical way to build a good building,” he said.