A big donation from the local Native American Tribes is aimed toward benefiting area youth.
Representatives from the Ottawa County Fair Board were presented a symbolic check Wednesday in the amount of $12,880.44 from the Inter-Tribal Council to purchase new animal pens and equipment for one the primary structures on the Ottawa County Fairgrounds that had been destroyed in the 2007 flood.
The new pens have already been paid for and installed.
The 80x220 foot building on the east side of the fairgrounds houses all of the show animals during the Ottawa County Fair and also sports a show ring.
Last summer, fair board members and other local volunteers, including State Rep. Larry Glenn, finished reconstruction on the building two years after it had been more or less washed away in a memorable flood that took out homes and businesses throughout Miami when the Neosho River spilled over following heavy rains.
Northeast Rural Electric Cooperative provided the seed money to rebuild the fair building, with volunteers doing the actual work. Until the donation from the Inter-Tribal Council, however, the building lacked permanent animal enclosures.
It was Modoc Chief Bill Follis who first presented the idea to the Inter-Tribal Council of putting up funds to buy new pens.
“The Inter-Tribal Council wants to give Chief Follis the credit,” said Council president Ron Sparkman. “He brought the issue to the Inter-Tribal Council. No one solicited the funds. It was just a matter of Chief Follis bringing it up and all the tribes agreed to fund the project.”
Follis said he brought the proposal before the council after seeing all the hard work and time the volunteers had put in to reconstruct the building. He was also aware that, since the flood, pens had to be borrowed from Tulsa before each fair and then dissembled and returned after the fair was over.
“This was a thing I could see us doing to help the community and the young people and the parents who were going through this hardship of borrowing pens and then bringing them back,” Follis said. “I think it will be an asset to the fair.”
Ottawa County Fair Board member Clint Siegrist agreed.
“It means a lot to us because this way we can utilize the rest of the building and with the pens they purchased for us, we don't have to go and borrow pens anymore,” Siegrist said. “It's just really been good for us. It's a lot less work for us and it makes it handy too.”
Sparkman later noted that the Inter-Tribal Council is often solicited for funds but said that wasn't the case in this instance.
“All of the chiefs and tribes in this area are members of this community,” Sparkman said. “Our young people are a part of this community and a part of this fair as participants. We're pleased to be able to provide monetary help.”