You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Fire worries spark Clark fairgrounds change

Campsites too close together and too close to barns, Springfield Twp. chief says.

Clark County commissioners support a $121,000 plan to address safety concerns about the potential for rapidly spreading fire at Clark County Fairgrounds campsites near the livestock barns.

The project will create an estimated 90 new campsites to benefit the nearly year-round use of the fairgrounds. However, it will require moving some campers who for years have used the sites nearest the livestock barns during the county fair.

Fair officials said Springfield Township Fire Department Chief John Roeder “highly recommended” the fairgrounds allow at least 18 feet between the campers and the barns. Campers must also be parked no less than two feet apart to allow firefighters space to move through the campsites in case of an emergency.

Jay Flax, president of the Clark County Fair Board, said some campers are parking so close together, they actually touch each other.

“If we have a fire, we’re going to have a real serious situation,” Flax said.

Allan Hess, executive director of the Clark County Fair, agreed.

“It’s something we’ve needed to address, and I think it’s a good thing that it’s come to a head,” Hess said. “We’re going to go ahead and take care of it. I think it’s important for the safety of everybody back there.”

The campers have parked much closer to the barns than 18 feet.

“We decided we had to do something before something serious happens out there,” Roeder said.

Roeder said the proximity of the RVs could harm not just those on fire but several in the vicinity of the fire.

“You’re going to jeopardize three or four of those before we even get there,” Roeder said.

The plan includes about 50 new campsites between the outdoor horse arena and Laybourne Road. Officials are trying to determine where the other sites will be.

Commissioners and fair officials discussed the issue this week. The fairgrounds are owned by the county, meaning the Board of County Commissioners would be liable for any damages caused by a fire.

“It’s something we have to maintain,” said Clark County Administrator Nathan Kennedy. “Their liability is our liability. If they get sued, we get sued because we’re the property owners. We have to keep that in mind.”

Hess said the campsites were built in the 1960s and 1970s when campers were much smaller than they are today.

“It’s been a concern of the fire chief’s for five to six years,” Hess said. “It’s gotten to the point where we need to make some changes from a safety standpoint.”

The fairgrounds have approximately 500 campsites overall, including those nearest the barns.

“They’re just too close,” Hess said.

The upgrades would increase the total number of campsites to approximately 540. Hess said that anybody who has to move will have a spot next year.

“We’ve got some folks with RVs that don’t fit their spots now because of their length,” Hess said. “The new spots would allow for those. It’s going to open up some spots, and we’ll have more spots available for those who want to be in the lottery.”

Electrical upgrades will fix deteriorating underground power lines in the campsite area, as well as likely increase power from 30-amp to 50-amp service.

The site holders will receive letters on the issue in the coming weeks after plans are finalized.

The deadline to purchase campsites is Nov. 4 for the 2014 Clark County Fair, according to its website, but that won’t include the new sites.

The annual campsite lottery, typically held in December, will be postponed until plans are finalized, Hess said.

Last year, the Clark County Combined Health District asked the fairgrounds to seek a permanent license to allow RVs to park at the Champions Center. The fairgrounds are exempt from the rules during fair week, but will need a license to allow for RV parking during the events held approximately 40 weeks per year.

The license is approved through the CCCHD, and the additional sites would provide the Champions Center with 100 permanent campsites needed for the application.

“They should get a temporary or a permanent license if they’re going to collect money for them,” said Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson. “Either option is available.”

The rules for campsites are set by the Ohio Department of Health through the Ohio Administrative Code, Patterson said.

“With the amount of space they have out there, it shouldn’t be that difficult to meet the requirements,” Patterson said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Fantasy sports may be regulated in Ohio

With more than 57 million players in the U.S. and Canada, the industry around fantasy sports betting is putting on a full court press to get Ohio and other states to declare their industry legal. State Reps. Jonathan Dever, R-Cincinnati, and Robert McColley, R-Napoleon, introduced House Bill 132, which would declare the fantasy sports betting legal...
Athlete of the Week Mechanicsburg High School
Athlete of the Week Mechanicsburg High School

Name: Tanner Smith School: Mechanicsburg High School Grade: 12 Age: 19 Sports: Wrestling, Football Claim to fame/honors: 2017 DIII Wrestling State Champ Words you live by: “Every day is a day to get better.” Toughest opponent: Carson Kharchilava Biggest influence: Parents and coaches Game-day rituals: Tie my wrestling shoes perfectly What&rsquo...
Student of the Week Mechanicsburg High School
Student of the Week Mechanicsburg High School

Name: Peyton “Rayfon” O’Laughlin School: Mechanicsburg High School Grade: 12 Age: 18 Extra-curricular: Bowling, jazz band, track and field Claim to fame/honors: Part of the Mechanicsburg boys bowling team that went undefeated this season and helped win the team its 8th consecutive OHC championship Words you live by: “You don&rsquo...
National Guard Brigade headquartered in Springfield set for deployment
National Guard Brigade headquartered in Springfield set for deployment

An Ohio National Guard sustainment brigade headquartered in Springfield was sent off by family and friends Saturday afternoon as it prepares for deployment. The 371st brigade, made up of soldiers from Springfield and all over Ohio, is headed to Texas for additional training and then will be sent to Southwest Asia. A large crowd cheered and waved Saturday...
At least 5 dead, dozens injured as tornadoes hit eastern Texas
At least 5 dead, dozens injured as tornadoes hit eastern Texas

Tornadoes tracked across parts of Texas on Saturday, leaving behind a swath of damage, injuring dozens of people and killing at least five, according to multiple reports. Preliminary reports to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth indicated that as many as three tornadoes raked over parts of Henderson, Van Zandt and Rains counties in eastern...
More Stories