CHEYENNE – An attorney representing the Laramie County Fair Board said she intends to appeal a district judge’s ruling that Laramie County commissioners were within their authority to dissolve the board.
Attorney Gay Woodhouse told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle late Wednesday she will soon file an appeal of District Court Judge Thomas Campbell’s decision and take the issue to the Wyoming Supreme Court.
“We disagree with the judge’s decision,” Woodhouse said. “We have a specific reason why we don’t think the case that he relied on applied to this matter.”
The County Commission in November voted to dismiss the independent volunteer board, arguing a new events department run by professionals could better oversee the Archer Complex, its new $9.9 million events center and other county recreation.
But fair board members objected and took the case to court, saying it was an overreach and a power grab by commissioners.
In the ruling issued earlier this month, Campbell stated, “The county commissioners possess the implied power to dissolve a board that they were granted the power to create. This is necessarily and fairly implied from, and incident to, their express power to create the Board in the first instance.”
In a news release Woodhouse said, “Commissioners had the power to create the board, but (state statute) specifically limits the power to abolish when it states ‘The board has perpetual existence and it is not necessary to file any certificate other than that filed upon original organization.’”
She added that “the Fair Board maintains that the Laramie County Commissioners cannot ignore a statutory mandate that the Laramie County Fair Board exist perpetually.”
In the ruling, Campbell also dismissed the board’s claim that commissioners could not redirect funds previously appropriated to the board. The judge cited statute that “commissioners have the right and responsibility to direct the funds to any authority designated by them so long as they are expended on fair operations.”
The Woodhouse statement goes on to say, “For decades, the Laramie County Fair Board and its trustees have worked tirelessly ensuring that the Laramie County Fair remains the best fair in the nation.”
“The Laramie County Commissioners leaned heavily on the Fair Board for guidance in fostering a welcoming and successful agricultural community, and as recompense has dragged their individual names through the mud and asserted the Fair Board is not a necessary part of Laramie County,” the statement reads.
“If they disagree with the court’s decision, they are entitled to take it to appeal,” said Steven Freudenthal, an attorney representing the commissioners.
Commissioners named Dan Ange as events director in March. Prior to his appointment in Laramie County, he served as events director for the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
In an interview prior to Wednesday’s announcement that the Fair Board would appeal the ruling, Laramie County Chair Linda Heath said there were no plans to seat an advisory board commissioners created last year to replace the Fair Board before the upcoming fair at the Archer complex.
“At this time, our focus is on getting the fair done,” Heath said. “We’ve got a lot of moving parts that we need to check some boxes on into the future. That’s probably a discussion we’re going to have as to whether or not that will be formed and how it will be formed.”
The Laramie County Fair is scheduled for July 31-Aug. 10.