By Mike Van Sickle
“The fair and beef show will go on.”
That was the message stressed by Fayette County Fair Board president Lucinda Schmitz following the Saturday evening fire that destroyed the beef barn on the fairgrounds in West Union.
“We (fair board) wish to express our appreciation to the entire West Union Fire Department for their quick response to the scene,” said Schmitz. “It is an unfortunate loss to not only the fair board and local beef producers, but all residents of Fayette County.”
While no livestock was in the barn at the time of the blaze, Schmitz reported Sunday that five vehicles, several pieces of lawn maintenance equipment, a couple of trailers, and a variety of bicycles were among the items lost in the locked building. She noted that the insurance adjuster was expected to arrive on Monday, April 22.
The Fayette County Fair Board was to host a special meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in the Dance Pavilion on the fairgrounds.
“While we will plan our next steps and possible alternate plans, we want to assure the public that the fair will go on as scheduled,” Schmitz reiterated, while remarking that a number of the Fayette County 4-H clubs quickly volunteered to help with cleaning up the debris.
Approximately 25 West Union firemen answered the emergency call to the local fairgrounds at approximately 6:35 p.m. on Saturday. Fire Chief Roger Gamm reported no injuries in the fire that quickly razed the structure.
Approximately one hour later, the firefighters were also called to Farmers Union Cooperative just north of the fairgrounds to a reported scale house fire on the property.
Gamm said the State Fire Marshal’s Office had been notified of the fire at the fairgrounds. The investigation is currently being led jointly by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and West Union Police Department.
Arrest made for
false emergency calls
In addition to fire calls at the Fayette County Fairgrounds and Farmers Union Cooperative, West Union firemen joined other emergency personnel in being dispatched to false reports on Saturday evening.
Fayette County Dispatch first received a 911 call at approximately 10:20 p.m. for an alleged vehicle on fire following a rollover on Highway 18 east of Echo Valley Speedway. The West Union Fire Department, Fayette County Sheriff's Office, West Union Police Department, and Tri-State Regional Ambulance each responded to the call. After an extensive search, the call was determined to be unfounded.
A second call then came in at approximately 10:45 p.m. for a similar incident on Highway 18 near Clermont. The Clermont Fire Department, ambulance, and Fayette County Sheriff's Office responded and subsequently determined that this call was also unfounded.
The West Union Police Department quickly identified the caller to be Ryan Jones of West Union. Jones was arrested by the West Union Police Department and charged with two counts of misuse of 911 and one count of harassment of public officers and employees. The 28-year-old was also charged with fifth-degree theft on an unrelated incident, which resulted from the investigation.
The West Union Police Department was assisted by the Fayette County Sheriff's Office in the investigation. Jones is currently being held in the Fayette County Law Enforcement Center.