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Rain forecast can't dampen enthusiasm for fair
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The Jefferson County 4-H Fair is back, and on Sunday was a busy place as fair goers enjoyed the rides in the midway, food concessions, a horse show and the first night of the Tots & Tykes contest.

A year ago, COVID-19 forced cancellation of the fair, with some of the event held virtually. While that allowed 4-H members to to show their projects and compete, it was nothing like a traditional fair.

“It feels great to be back in full force,” said Purdue Extension Educator Britt Copeland.

Copeland said not even this week’s forecast for rain — it rained some on both days of the opening weekend — will dampen the fair spirit.

Copeland said fair leaders will be watching this week’s weather forecast to help in planning events. “We’re going to be flexible and deal with the weather as it comes,” he said. “A few mud puddles aren’t going to hurt anyone.”

Saturday’s rain forced the cancellation of the Truck and Tractor Pull, but activities were back on track Sunday for the horse show.

“We were worried about the horse show,” said Copeland, but “the area dried once the sun came out”, and it went on as scheduled. The Tots & Tykes event, originally scheduled for the grandstands to take advantage of outdoor spacing, was moved indoor to the Community Building.

Copeland said that because last year’s 4-H seniors missed being part of a fair, efforts are being made to recognize both the 2020 seniors along with the 2021 seniors at this year’s event. “Two years have gone by and they grew up so fast,” he said, noting it is important to honor the 4-H student leaders.

Grandstand events the rest of the week will include the Horse Pull on Tuesday, MotoX Racing on Wednesday and Thursday, and the traditional Demo Derby on Friday — all starting at 7 p.m.

Livestock events include the Swine Show on Tuesday at 5 p.m., the Dairy Show on Wednesday at 10 a.m., the Sheep Show at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, and the Beef Show on Thursday at 8 a.m. with the Livestock Auction at 1 p.m. on Friday.

The last day for the fair is Saturday, which culminates with the 4-H awards program at 4 p.m.

Firefighters respond to overheated mechanical system at Hanover campus center
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Campus safety and local firefighters responded to an odor of smoke in the Brown Campus Center at Hanover College on Sunday morning.

According to Katie Linzille, a campus safety first responder at the college, the source of the smoke was equipment in a mechanical room at the campus center that overheated after an electrical outage on campus Saturday night. She said the equipment, which operates off two-phase electrical power, overheated when only one phase of the power came back on-line after the outage and that caused the equipment to overheat.

“We had some motors overheat to about 400 degrees and when a security guard showed up to open the building at 5 a.m. he noticed the smell of smoke and called the fire department,” Linzille said.

Firefighters from the Hanover Township and Madison Township volunteer fire companies responded to the scene. A check of the mechanical room found that an electric motor in the HVAC system had failed. Although no fire was found, the room was full of smoke and hazardous byproducts of combustion so a ventilation fan was used to remove the smoke and other hazards from the area.

Linzille said the fire and security system would normally trigger an alarm in such situations but the alarm system apparently shut off during the outage. Several buildings on campus lost power Saturday night so firefighters checked other structures in the area as well.

Hanover College maintenance and campus security assisted firefighters in checking the nearby Science Center as well. Crews used a specialized thermal imaging camera to potentially locate any issues but none were found.

The Brown Campus Center is one of the buildings on campus that sees use year around. It houses both alumni services and student life and serves as the campus dining hall and home to Parkhurst Dining Services that prepares food on campus and caters to clients off campus.

Linzille said the center was open on Monday but there was still a slight odor of smoke.

JCBT, VMI finally agree to contract
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A contract between the Jefferson County Board of Tourism and Visit Madison Inc., has been agreed upon with VMI president Lucy Dattilo signing the document last week.

For much of 2021, VMI has been working without a contract or budget, depending on short-term appropriations by JCBT. At its last meeting in June, JCBT adopted the contract pending approval by VMI.

“We’ve signed it,” said Sarah Prasil, VMI executive marketing director, who added that VMI is waiting for its copy of the contract back.

The contract, which is effective through March 31, 2022, provides $14,167 per month towards VMI’s operating expenses.

Prasil noted the contract furnishes Visit Madison Inc. with operations funding, but she said “the marketing budget is still lingering,” and the marketing spending is what VMI uses for expenditures on marketing and promotional activities.

After last month’s JCBT meeting, JCBT board president David Bramer explained the amount for marketing will be determined as VMI submits its proposed budget with a strategic plan, then as JCBT reviews that, it will determine if that amount is approved.

“The ball’s now in our court,” Prasil said, as VMI will submit a marketing budget for JCBT to consider.

JCBT appropriates money to VMI from the county innkeepers tax, and due to COVID-19 in 2020, that tax took in less revenue, which challenged JCBT’s ability to meet what the county had appropriated to VMI that year. The contract provides that JCBT can decrease the amount it provides for marketing if the county innkeeper’s tax “decreases by an amount of 20% or more of the five-year running average and during that same period (excluding 2020).”

“One thing has been resolved (with the contract signed), but we’re working on the other,” said Prasil in reference to the marketing budget. Prasil praised “the work our small team has been doing” in continuing to promote Madison and Jefferson County throughout the process.