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Mike McCabe has already joined the board and James Savage will be sworn in after Dec. 31

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Fair board members are tasked with helping maintain the fairgrounds and hold events.

The Crook County Fair Board will start 2019 with two new board members.

Mike McCabe and James Savage were recently chosen for two of the positions, with McCabe having already joined the board and Savage set to in January.

If the two names sound familiar, it might have something to do with their presence in the community prior to taking on the new role. McCabe spent more than 20 years on the Crook County Court, including an eight-year stint as the County Judge. Savage, meanwhile, has served the county as its undersheriff for the past two years.

Gail Merritt, the Fair Board Chair, said that McCabe's position opened following the resignation of Tim Ray earlier this year.

"There were several people who put their applications in, and we interviewed them and then gave our recommendation to the County Court," she said.

Merritt highlighted many attributes that made McCabe the top choice to fill Ray's vacancy.

"Mike has banking experience," she said. "He knows our county inside and out. He has a passion for the county fair and the fairgrounds."

McCabe has a history with the fairgrounds that stretches back to his childhood, Merritt added, noting that his mother was the first woman to be appointed to the board. More recently, McCabe served for a period of time on the fair board before he joined county government, and he has worked with Merritt as a member of the 4-H/FFA Livestock Sale Committee.

"His heart and soul is in the fairgrounds," she said.

Another fair board member, Bill Gowen, is going to step down when his term concludes on Dec. 31, opening up the position that Savage will fill.

"James is patiently waiting in the wings," Merritt said of his pending board member status. "All of the (board) meetings are public, so he is attending the meetings. Then, on Jan. 1, after he takes his oath, he will be a member."

Like McCabe, Savage turned in an outstanding application, Merritt said, expressing a desire to serve the community.

"We thought he would be a good asset to the fair board," she said.

McCabe and Savage are the latest additions to a board that is represented by several community leaders. Merritt serves on the Prineville City Council, and fellow member Dale Cummins is the Prineville police chief.

Merritt is quick to point out that other members like Linda Smith and Linda Cross are heavily involved in the community, as is Stanley Flynn, whose most visible contribution might be his leadership of the Christmas in the Pines drive-thru light display.

"We like to have different skillsets for the fair board," Merritt said. "We like to have a well-rounded fair board."

The Crook County Fair Board is primarily responsible for operations, finances and the general condition of the fairgrounds as well as any events or activities that take place there. Merritt explains that the board and its activities are governed by state statute, and that it operates directly under the County Court.

This time of the year, the fair board meets officially on a monthly basis, although the frequency increases in February as the group begins its fair planning efforts.

"We are definitely a working board," Merritt added. "Anything from pulling weeds to setting up for the fair and events, painting and whatever we can do to assist the fairgrounds manager and staff."

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