4-H asked to leave fairgrounds

The 4-H program vacated the fairgrounds while lawyers work to establish a formal agreement in order to resume partnership.

BREMERTON — The archery club had to take an unscheduled break after the 4-H program was asked to leave the Kitsap County Fairgrounds at the start of 2016.

“4-H has had a presence at the fairgrounds a number of years without charge,” said county administrator Karen Goon.

The program, a part of Washington State University Extension’s youth and family program unit, has been partnering with Kitsap County for years.

“We kind of got to a point where we needed to do a formal agreement to deal with issues that might arise,” Goon said. “We wanted to have an agreement between WSU and the county that talked about how we would handle claims and indemnification.”

Indemnification is a clause identifying which party is liable for injuries, loss or damages.

Doreen Hauser-Lindstrom, WSU’s youth and family program director, said, “It really looks at making sure that all youth and volunteers and adults that work with the 4-H and youth development program are safe, and also that the county is safe, and WSU.

“The lawyers are busy working, trying to come to an agreement about the indemnification issue,” she added.

Goon said that partially due to holiday vacations, the groups “weren’t able to pull it together before the first of the year.”

“I am confident that we’ll be able to work through and resolve the issue so that our 4-H youth can be active on the Kitsap County Fairgrounds,” said Hauser-Lindstrom.

She added that the lawyers have been in discussions since December 2015, and she doesn’t know when an agreement might be reached.

“We definitely want the best for both parties, and it’s a partnership,” she said. “Extension is a partnership between the county and the state and the feds, it’s a cooperative, it’s a partnership. We’re all working to make sure that we can move forward.”

“I’m hoping we can wrap this up pretty quickly,” Goon said. “I know everyone is invested in having them back and doing their activities there.”

This allegedly started in March of 2015, when the county requested a formal lease outlining legal and liability issues. In November, the county allegedly contacted the program again, saying if a formal agreement was not reached by the end of the year, the 4-H program would need to vacate the fairgrounds.