County commissioners talk fairgrounds management

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Curry County commissioners on Wednesday discussed a potential contract with Global Spectrum to manage the county fairgrounds and events center.

Commissioners heard the Philadelphia-based facility management company’s proposal during its last commission meeting.

In what became his last meeting as county manger, Dick Smith said the company would be in charge of operating, marketing and booking events at the facilities.

Smith, whose contract with the county was terminated later in the meeting after he notified the Commission last week of his intent to resign, said the county is negotiating a management fee of $96,000 with the management company.

“Some people see Global Spectrum as this big bad wolf, but you have to understand, they work for you,” he said.

Commissioner Frank Blackburn expressed concerns that educational and traditional events at the fairground hosted by non-profit groups will be affected.

He said events such as the Farm Safety Day, which is usually organized by the Curry County Extension office, use the fairgrounds for free.

“That thing belongs to the public,” he said. “I don’t want to go commercial; I’m just opposed to it.”

Commissioner Robert Sandoval said he agreed the county needs someone to manage the events center, a $7 million facility near the fairgrounds slated to open next year. But he was not sure if the county could afford paying Global Spectrum to manage the fairgrounds and the events center and requested the county send out a bid for managing just the events center.

“I certainly wouldn’t buy a car without knowing if I can pay for it,” he said. “And that’s what I’m being asked to do here.”

Commissioner Pete Hulder said it was not practical to have two managers for the facilities.

Hulder also said the company would bring in events the county would not be able to, which would help pay for operating costs.

“We’re paying every year for the fairgrounds, what we’re presupposing is to continue what we’ve been doing in the past, but we’re going to hire a company to add to our revenue flow,” he said.

He said if the company could not bring more events to the county, the commission could terminate the contract.