Products Mart pursues another fairgrounds site
By By Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
The State Products Mart Authority is pursuing the purchase of another site for the Morgan County Fairgrounds after abandoning plans to purchase a site adjacent to the north city limits of Priceville earlier this year.
The property being pursued is a 175-acre farm with an unoccupied residence and shop building located at the junction of Thompson Road and Mount Tabor and Mount Zion Roads, about one mile east of the I-65 and Thompson Road corridor. The property is owned by the heirs of the late J.G. Thompson.
The authority met Nov. 11 and authorized Chairman Ed Monroe of Hartselle to negotiate with the handlers of the estate and bring a proposed purchaser’s contract back to the authority for consideration. The land has been appraised at $3,500 per acre.
The authority backed off of the proposed purchase of a 159-acre fairgrounds site at East Upper River and Bethel Roads last July after the county commission joined with Riceville residents in opposition to the move. Since that time the authority has looked at the Thompson property as well as two other sites, one in Decatur the other between U.S. Highway 31 and I-65 north of Falkville.
In a separate move, the authority agreed to reconsider the purchase of Celebration Arena in Princeville in a partnership agreement with the Racking Horse Breeders Association of America. An offer of $640,000 was made in February 2007 for the 118-acre facility but that was refused by the horse breeders association.
Newly elected District 3 Commissioner Don Stisher, who previously served as manager of the arena, and District 2 Commissioner Ken Livingston encouraged Products Mart board members to give investment in the arena property a second look.
Stisher said a partnership with the horse breeders association would help promote tourism in the county. He said the economic impact of the 42 events that are held at the arena each year amount to about $44 million.
Livingston presented the a petition containing the signatures of about 300 Morgan County residents requesting the authority to invest in the arena and adjoining land.