Bedford County Fair Board President Jim Edwards walked through the charred shell of Fair offices Friday, stepping over a large support beam while talking about the next few months when remediation and remodeling will bring back the offices to be better than ever.
Demolition cleanup is underway at the offices where an Aug. 6 fire erupted following what investigators said was a blaze likely sparked by exposed wires in the electrical panel, Edwards said.
He pointed to the remains of a flat-top roof that was original to the stone building and likely saved many of the trusses for the roof that was placed over the flat roof in the late 1980s or early 1990s, Edwards said.
Fairgrounds Manager John E. Holbert said the metal roof covering the building, which was completed in 1959, was put on in 2007.
But the roof will have to be replaced as part of the renovations and remodeling that also will include new wiring, new phone system, a heat pump to replace the oil furnace along with windows, doors, furniture and other amenities.
Mihalko’s General Contracting of Johnstown is completing the demolition cleanup, and once that’s done in the near future, will begin the smoke remediation.
Holbert said workers have cleared out several rollbacks’ worth of debris from the office building.
The next step will be to have contractor Randy Blair work with Fair officials on remodeling the office, including enlarging the bathroom and changing the front office.
Luckily, Edwards said, Aerial Communications was able to save all the information on hard drives in the three office computers.
Edwards said his office door was closed and his desk drawers were shut so information he had in there, including old meeting mnutes, also was salvaged.
However, more current board minutes were in cabinets near the electrical panel as were other papers and stock certificates. The intense heat destroyed all of the paperwork and furniture at the front office area.
The estimate for the demolition and cleanup work is about $18,000, Edwards said. He’s not sure what the final renovations will be until he sees more bids for electrical work, the roofing, heat pumps, restrooms and other renovations. Edwards said the board has quotes now that members will be working on during the winter.
The office staff now works in the 4-H building’s kitchen, Holbert said.
“It’s a slow process,” he said. “It took a while to get things linked up and finally moving.”
The fire was intense enough to warp the steel beam that was taken down from its place across the front entrance.
Edwards said he was able to talk about the fire and the renovations before the state fair board. He said Cumberland, Maryand, fair officials, who belong to the Pennsylvania association, offered some furniture, should Bedford County need it.
Edwards said he was able to brag to fair officials statewide of the 350 volunteers that help to make the fairgrounds and the county Fair successful.
“It’s quite a tradition here,” Edwards said. “Well, it’s 145 years.”
While the Fair office is being reconstructed, the board is planning to add bathrooms to Jordan Hall.
“They should be ready by the home show,” he said of the annual Chamber of Commerce weekend of home and garden exhibits.
As for the office, Holbert predicted the staff will have new space in the spring.
The fair board is collecting donations through the “Fair Office Restoration Fund” at Somerset Trust.
In addition to a $10,000 check from the Bedford Fall Foliage Festival committee, the Bedford evening Rotary has pledged a contribution from its pork and sauerkraut dinner, Holbert said.
“When we get it remodeled in there, it will be better than it was,” Holbert said.
The loss of photos, scrapbooks and other memorabilia in the fire is a hard pill to swallow, but Edwards said people have offered theirs to adorn the new offices. “With the support we’re getting, we’re going to come back and hopefully come back stronger.”
Anyone who is due premium checks is asked to call the fair office at 623-9011.