The Johnson County Agricultural Association is asking the Johnson County Board of Supervisors for increased financial support to sustain the operation of the county’s fairgrounds.

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Over the past few years, the board has cut funding to the association almost in half from $103,000 in 2020 to $89,400 in 2022, and for the current fiscal 2023, the association only received $52,000 says an article in Daily Iowan. However, the 2023 funding cut also has to do with a miscommunication between the groups.

That’s not the only reason the Johnson County Agricultural Association is struggling with funds.

Between 2018 and 2020, the association underwent a financial struggle when an employee embezzled around $62,000 from the association’s fairground fund.

Zachery Ely Russell, 31 of Mount Pleasant was hired to do maintenance around the Johnson County Fairgrounds. According to an article in KWQC, the criminal complaint said that Russell stole money from the company by using debt cards, a checking account, and lines of credit between September 2018 and February 2020.

The complaint goes on to say that Russell transferred the money to his personal bank account as well as a Paypal account which he then used to buy a 2014 Chevy Silverado and a 2018 Stampede X side by side.

On top of that, he hired a commercial cleaning business to clean the fairgrounds in October 2018, something that Russell was supposed to do, which cost more than $9,000. On top of that, he also wrote a check for $4,525 from the Johnson County Agricultural Association’s bank account to himself.

The Johnson County Agricultural Association took a hit as a result of this incident and has had to turn to the Board of Supervisors for more support. The financial support from the supervisors would help fund renovations and ensure that the fair can continue to be available free of charge.

The miscommunication that led to the cut of funding to the association happened because an employee failed to file financial paperwork to the board on time.

In a recent meeting discussing the extra funding, the board asked the association for a list of buildings at the fairgrounds that need renovation and about steps taken to prevent future embezzlement from happening.

For now, the Daily Iowan article says, Johnson County residents should not be worried about their fair’s future.

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