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2015-12-31

'It's done' - BCJLSA signs 25-year lease

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

County Judge Richard Evans and Bandera County Junior Livestock Association Kevin Meier put their "John Hancocks" on a 25-year lease agreement between the county and BCJLSA for use of the show barn located at Mansfield Park.



As their last official act of 2015, Bandera County Commissioners unanimously approved a 25-year lease agreement between the county and the Bandera County Junior Livestock Association (BCJLSA) for use of the show barn located at Mansfield Park. The new agreement takes effect on Jan. 1.
During a special-called meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 29, the courtroom was packed with friends, relatives, supporters and association members for the occasion.
"This lease protects the people who have worked so long and so hard," said County Judge Richard Evans. "This is a good thing in my opinion."
Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris said he had received only one phone call about the agenda item and the caller had expressed concern about the length of the lease. However, the initial lease was also for a 25-year term. It would have remained in effect until 2017 had not this latest lease been executed.
"New portions have been added to the contract which clarify the rules," Evans explained.
And, after he noted, "The stock show people will be responsible for all maintenance," Harris made a motion to approve the lease with Precinct 4 Commissioner Jordan "Jody" Rutherford offering a second lickety-split.
During the discussion, Rutherford asked - should finances allow - if portions of parking lot could be paved.
"I can't imagine that the association would object to a paved parking lot," Evans said.
"No," concurred BCJLSA President Kevin Meier.
Before the final vote, Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Wilkerson offered a mea culpa of sorts. "I'm sorry for the controversy surrounding this. It was never my intention to take away from the children of this county," he said. "I've dedicated my life to helping kids. I just wanted to enhance the use of the (show barn) and to help the county."
In December 2014, rumors had surfaced indicating that a local nonprofit was interested in taking over the show barn's long-term lease and transforming the cavernous metal structure into a conference center. According to earlier reports and interviews, the transmogrified show-barn-into-conference-center would still be made available to house the Bandera County Junior Livestock Show & Sale in January.
Since his election to the court, Wilkerson had researched ways to turn Mansfield Park into a profit-making venue. However, during a commissioners court meeting on Thursday, Dec. 11, most people - including Wilkerson's fellow elected officials - spoke against morphing the show barn into a convention-conference center.
In an interview with the Courier at that time, Wilkerson noted, "If the county doesn't want to take over management of the show barn, we could offer it to a nonprofit or even an individual, but it must be bid out." He added, "In that case, the county would not get revenue from scheduled events." The nonprofit that had been bandied about for possible management of the show barn was the Bandera Community Foundation, sponsor of Celebrate Bandera and Black & Red Ball.
Additionally, Wilkerson had eschewed the terms "convention center" or "conference center," noting, "I never called it that. I prefer the name FairPlex."
However, it appears Wilkerson's unqualified support of the "FairPlex" concept proved to be his political undoing. He has decided not to run for a second term, leaving challenger Jack Moseley as the only candidate in the March 1 Republican Primary Election.
And, in an interview on Tuesday, Dec. 29, Evans explained, "If the county took over management of the show barn, we could rent it to the stock show association for two weeks a year - and we would have to pay for all the maintenance on the building. And, that cost would come out of taxpayers' money. This way, the taxpayers don't have to pay a cent."
The vote in favor of the long-term lease with the BCJLSA was unanimous. Evans thanked members for their hard work over the years, noting, "You've shown a lot of commitment and effort and we appreciate it."
As Meier and Evans finalized the long-time-coming lease agreement with their signatures, both breathed sighs of relief. "I'm glad the association can continue to serve the youth of Bandera County," Meier said, indicating the programs would continue to teach youths about personal responsibility and, above all, self-sufficiency.