October 27, 2005

Fair Board, Race Fans Start Fund Drive For New Lights

Thursday evening featured an enlightening meeting between the Scotland County Fair Board, Scotland County Speedway track promoter Todd Staley and various racing fans and boosters. The parties gathered at the Northeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission office to discuss upgrading the lighting at the racetrack.

Those attending the meeting reviewed a pair of proposals calling for the installation of 13 new light poles around the track. Each pole would house a bank of four lights. The plans also called for new underground wiring to each pole, improved electrical service on the fairgrounds as well as a new transformer outside the track.

Preliminary cost estimates for the project were in the $50,000 range.

Despite the big price tag, those in attendance at the meeting were in agreement to pursue the project.

The first, and most significant obstacle will be raising the money to fund the improvements.

The race fans, race teams and area businesses interested in seeing racing grow in Memphis, they will need to get involved in this fund-raising effort, if this project is going to get done, said fair board president Phil Aylward.

The fair board has initiated a public funding drive and has planned the creation of an escrow account at a Memphis bank to be designated solely for the lighting project. The project will only accept donations of $100 or more.

By handling the money in this way, should we be unable to accomplish our goal, all of the moneys will be returned to the donors, Aylward stated.

The board also indicated that none of the lighting equipment would be purchased until the total project costs had been collected.

In order to generate the needed revenue, boosters are encouraging race fans, sponsors and race teams to pool their funds as groups with the goal of purchasing an individual pole, which has an estimated cost of $4,000. The project has already received positive feedback with pledges received for a number of poles. The first donations were received the night of the meeting.

The fair board will continue to refine the plans for the project and is seeking additional price quotes to establish a more definite cost estimate.

Board members seemed encouraged by the support for the proposal, noting that public funding was imperative to help continue improving the program and the grounds. Other public input was offered on possibly improving the grandstands and constructing new rest rooms in the race track pit area, future goals that focused on outside funding to help the fair board be able to pursue the aggressive agenda for improvements.

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