CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Kanawha County Fair is likely dead and buried after the commission voted unanimously during Thursday's meeting to dissolve the foundation responsible for organizing and holding the event.
The commissioners voted to dissolve the foundation after learning Ron Gregory had been soliciting funds for the organization.
Gregory was the county fair coordinator, but Parks and Recreation had severed all ties with him after he allegedly took a county parks vehicle to Lincoln County without first obtaining permission last December, Commissioner Dave Hardy said.
Gregory had solicited a $3,000 check from American Electric Power and a $1,000 check from E.L. Robinson Engineering, Hardy said. Gregory also had applied for a grant from the state to help fund the fair.
"I don't think Ron Gregory has any business at all putting himself out there as a county fair agent," an incensed Hardy said.
Hardy asked why a man who was soundly criticized for a $1 million mistake in the county budget when he was county manager in the 1980s would be allowed to solicit funds for the foundation.
Kanawha County Parks Commission President Anna Dailey said the organization had severed all ties with Gregory in December and he should not have been soliciting funds for the foundation.
Gregory has stated that he has a contract with the fair foundation to solicit funds and collect a 30 percent commission on the money he raises, County Manager Jennifer Sayre said. However, Sayre has not seen a contract.
Dailey also has seen no contract between Gregory and the fair foundation. She pointed out that none of the parks and recreation commissioners are on the fair foundation.
"We don't have a contract with him as part of the parks commission," Dailey said.
Dailey said the parks commission, which had an advisory role in the organization of the fair, made the decision not to offer any assistance to the foundation in its efforts to stage the event this summer.
"We had no plans to hold a fair," she said during the meeting. "We would not offer assistance other than security and a location."
The fair, which has struggled in the past, moved between Camp Virgil Tate in the Sissonville area and Shawnee Park in Institute.
Commission President Kent Carper said the county would send the money back to the businesses that made the recent donations. Any other funds in the fair foundation's bank accounts would then be used to pay any outstanding bills, he said.
"If anyone else wants to hold a fair, they can," he said.
Hardy suggested the county also should send a letter to the state indicating it did not endorse Gregory's application for funds.
The fair board, which was originally appointed by the county commission, has been defunct for about a year, Carper said. Parks commission employees oversee the financials, he said.
Hardy called the fair foundation a "one-man Ron Gregory show."