County gets update on arena

FAIRMONT — Martin County commissioners on Tuesday heard an update on the Martin County Arena.

In recent years, water had been infiltrating the arena after significant rainfall. Fixing the issue required installing a main, tile and other necessities.

Martin County Fair board of directors treasurer Calvin Saxton spoke to the board Tuesday.

“The best thing I can tell you is that it worked,” he said. “We’ve had substantial rain this summer and there has been no water in the arena, which is huge.

“We started last summer with the main, and after the fair we put in everything on the side of the arena, and the last phase was the asphalt that you generously helped us out with. The guys from the county just did the finishing touches this week.”

Saxton was impressed with the help received from the crew.

“You’ve got a great group of guys,” he said. “They were conscientious, wanted to do a great job and they were just exceptional out there.”

In other business, the board heard a budget request from Melvia Nelsen of the South Central Volunteer Dive Team. Nelsen presented the board with a brief update, and the board received and filed the request.

“A year ago, we had raised enough funding to purchase a 22-foot premiere pontoon with a 90-horse motor,” she said. “Different people worked with us to obtain this at a reduced price. We also have a washdown system on the pontoon, which is used to wash off divers and the boat.

“A lot of people don’t realize that in going down to recover a victim, our divers are in hazardous waters contaminated by body fluids. It is quite expensive for our teams to do this, but we never charge for anything that involves a victim, and we never will. Another major part of our team is education.”

Nelsen said the Fairmont Fire Department currently has eight people training to be divers. They will then be the first response for Fairmont’s lakes.

“Because with the distance it does take us time to get our boats and get there,” she continued. “We’ve been working with them on what equipment they need, and we also did training this last winter on ice rescue.

“Currently, our team leader is meeting with the Fairmont Lakes Foundation. Apparently they had discovered some objects in Fairmont lakes this last spring that are too big for them to recover. We will be using our sonar to find these items and we have lift bags and a lift rig that we can use to raise large objects.”

Nelsen said it is important to get those items, potentially including things such as snowmobiles, out of the lakes; not only for the betterment of the lakes but for the safety of the divers should they need to perform a search or recovery.

“It’s very hard for us to raise funding for our operational costs,” Nelsen noted. “We can raise funding for equipment, but our expenses are tough, it’s not something you can raise donations for.”

Nelsen thanked the board for previous funding.