After 60 years, the Wise County Sheriff’s Posse will no longer manage the local fairgrounds.
County Judge Bill McElhaney said Monday in the regular commissioners’ meeting that the long-term lease with the Sheriff’s Posse expired Aug. 1, and it will not be renewed.
McElhaney said the county, by law, could no longer offer a long-term lease to any entity.
“We can’t do the multi-year renewals,” he said. “Statutorily, we can’t do that.”
The property was first leased to the Sheriff’s Posse 60 years ago. McElhaney explained that at that time a long-term lease was acceptable, but said now it was time to re-evaluate.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns said the Sheriff’s Posse had done a great job of managing the facility and it had been an asset to the community.
Management and upkeep of the facility will revert to the county.
Commissioners appointed a Wise County Fairgrounds Committee to oversee the transition. The committee includes Burns, Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White, Sheriff David Walker and Public Works Administrator Tom Goode.
The judge said he hoped the committee would improve and enhance the “usability of the property.”
“The way that lease was written, the improvements that are out there do belong to the Sheriff’s Posse, and that would be a thing to work out with them on the conditions, terms, etc.,” McElhaney said.
McElhaney said he also wanted the committee to meet with other organizations that use the facility.
White said he wanted to be involved in the transition.
“I feel like there are some misconceptions about this by a lot of people, and I think we need to clarify this,” he said.
Burns said Tuesday that the county would maintain the facility with inmate and precinct labor.
He said previously the county focused solely on the land, but now they could perform some maintenance on the buildings. He explained that the county wants to accommodate all of the various entities that use the property, and the committee plans to meet with those parties soon.
The Sheriff’s Posse has leased the 15-acre property from the county for $1 per year since 1955.