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4-H Council appears to control park


February 15, 2012
It appears that it is the Crawford County 4-H Council Inc. who has the say on improvements at the Crawford County 4-H Community Park south of Marengo.

"My personal opinion is it probably is the 4-H," Jim Schultz, president of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners, told Glenn Crecelius, one of the organizers of last September's Crawford County Community Fest who recently raised the question, at the board's meeting Jan. 31 at the judicial complex in English.

Schultz noted that a $500,000 state grant to make improvements at the park years ago was awarded to the 4-H Council. This was in addition to the original USDA Rural Development loan used to purchase the property.

Crecelius and other Community Fest organizers want to extend water lines on the property and upgrade the electrical outlets at the campsites and plan to do the work themselves, but have been unclear from whom to seek permission.

John E. Colin, the board's legal counsel, said that while he doesn't believe the county would have any objections, it would be a good idea to review the agreement on the USDA Rural Development loan to see if there are any stipulations preventing such improvements. Still, he said, it would be the 4-H Council's decision.

The confusion arose, in part, because it was believed there was an agreement that gave authority over the park, developed about a decade ago, to the Crawford County 4-H Council Inc. for two weeks a year for the annual fair, with the county, through its park board, in charge for the remaining 50 weeks.

That belief was furthered by the county council last fall providing the $32,168 needed for the annual payment on the USDA Rural Development loan as the 4-H Council did not have the funds. Initially, the 4-H had its own tax levy to generate income to pay the loan, but the levy expired and the 4-H has had to turn to the county for help. The council provided the money from riverboat wagering tax dollars.

Despite county officials, including District 1 Commissioner Daniel Crecelius, a member of the county council when the park was developed, believing that an agreement between the county and 4-H Council existed, no one has been able to find a single agreement signed by all of the parties involved: commissioners, county council, park board and 4-H.

Colin suggested the county, if it continues helping pay the USDA loan, may want any new agreement to allow for it to co-govern the park.

"What I'm concerned about is getting all the documentation straight, and we haven't got that now," Daniel Crecelius said.

Schultz said all of the parties want a quality park.

"We may need to go back and clean up a few items, but I think all those groups are interested in what's best for the county," he said.

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