SHELBYVILLE (AP) — Leaders of a central Indiana county say they're glad work has started on construction of a fairgrounds grandstand to replace one destroyed by arson nearly two years ago.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday at the Shelby County Fairgrounds on a new $2.3 million grandstand that officials expect will be ready in time for this summer's fair starting June 29.
Construction work has started in recent weeks, and the project is on schedule, county commissioner President Kevin Nigh told The Shelbyville News (http://bit.ly/1lNi3pO ).
The previous 133-year-old grandstand was one of few similar wooden structures left in the state when it burned down in a May 2012 fire that was ruled arson. No arrests have been made.
Officials said a benefit of the grandstand's loss was the way it brought city and county officials together.
"I think as a group we are working together as partners better than ever before," Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun said.
Temporary metal bleachers were built along the fairgrounds track for fair activities after the fire in the city about 25 miles southeast of Indianapolis.
County officials previously approved taking out a $2.45 million loan for the grandstand project to be repaid from the county's economic development income tax fund by 2024. Centaur Gaming, owner of Shelbyville's Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, is contributing $250,000 toward the project, which county officials hope to pay off early.
Fair Board president Mike Freeman said the grandstand construction was an important step.
"It is very exciting to see it come back to life, and it will be a very nice facility," Freeman said.
Nigh said he believed people attending the fair will be pleased with the project.
"There is no way you can ever replace the structure we had, but we'll come close," he said.