As county election workers and the election board are preparing for the Nov. 3 election, voters also should be preparing so their vote will be counted.

One piece of advice given is that those using mail-in ballots prepare early. The post office needs sufficient time for you to receive the ballot, prepare your ballot and return it by 8 p.m. on eection night.

One posted suggestion was for voters to give themselves at least 14 days, meaning the "real" election day for those voters is in Oct. 20. With all the advertising and interest in the election, voters should have no excuse for not voting.

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In the meantime, both the county Democratic and Republican parties also are in high gear. Signs for both presidential candidates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, have arrived at the respective headquarters and are now available to voters to pick up and show their support for their candidate.

It's always interesting to me to see where those signs of support are placed. Often, one will see a split household — with both signs in the yards!

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For political junkies, it is sad that the national conventions will be scaled back. Crawford County Democratic Committee Chairperson Valerie Kean-Staab has been named a district delegate to the Democratic convention.

She has been a delegate to a number of Democratic conventions in the past as a delegate for Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

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Although not a political move, the county commissioners now have the task of awarding grant money to entities who have been affected by the COVID-19 virus and are eligible for funds under the federal legislation.

The problem is often there are too many requests and not enough money! However, commissioners should be used to that as it is a reality for all taxing bodies. The needs often are greater than the money available.

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As the summer continues, many organizations are using different ways to raise money to make up for the fact their major fundraisers — usually festivals that are at least two days long — were cancelled.

It's fun to see the different activities scheduled and the methods being used to meet the guidelines and yet, attract customers and make money.

While people often complain about standing in line to vote, the lines of cars at various "drive through" events — such as Wesbury's chicken dinner — shows people are willing to wait in line for something they believe is important.

With the short ballot this fall, people voting in person should not have to wait too long. The key is for people to be informed before they go to the polls. That includes making sure they are registered to vote — it doesn't matter which party this fall. It also is important to make certain where they are to vote. Poll workers don't like to have to direct people to another site — particularly if they have been waiting very long.

Informed voters means much more than deciding which presidential candidate to choose. It's being prepared by knowing all the steps — and all the candidates.

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Commissioners are looking again at more ways to attract use of the fairgrounds — including looking at the rental fees. That brings back memories. One of the last times, the actual rental fees were increased was when the late Gene Rumsey was a commissioner.

After hearing all the complaints about the cost of the fairgrounds to the taxpayers, he did what many business people do. He had the fairgrounds mesured and then divided the cost of operations and rent was determined by square foot. Sounds simple.

However, that brought a deluge of protests — as many organizations thought the fee was too high. I can recall one man attending a meeting and screaming — directed more at Rumsey than the others. He noted taxpayers had already paid for the fairgrounds and should not have to pay again to use it. He promised he would "defeat" Rumsey when he ran for re-election. That's the type of attitudes that those in charge often face. For the record, Rumsey didn't win re-election.

I can recall Commissioner Morris Waid trying to make some changes as well, including keeping electric on at the fairgrounds during the winter. He told me it was so cost prohibited to do that!

As a reporter, I learned a lot of the "obstacles" commissioners — and the fair board itself — have had to face.

Although the fair board doesn't pay to rent the fairgrounds, it has in the past paid "its share" by re-investing in upgrading infrastructure (such as electric) at the grounds. Those upgrades are then used by others who do pay rent.

For the record, the 4-H clubs and FFA chapters do not have to pay to use the grounds.

Decades ago (like six decades), the grounds were used for Wednesday night stock car races. I believe it was the Jaycees who sponsored them. Then, the insurance costs made that popular sport too costly and that was ended.

The fair board itself one year sponsored the Lipizan horses — several weeks after the fair — believing it would be a great attraction. While it was pretty popular, it too didn't draw the crowds the fair itself does.

One factor at the time was the event was held during the fall — when high school sports were being played.

It's hopeful that the new advisory board will find more ways to attract use of the fair. At one time, one report showed the fairgrounds was rented nearly every weekend during the summer.

One positive note, the county's "loss" for operating the fairgrounds last year was $117,867.84. When Rumsey was one of the commissioners, the "loss" was nearly $250,000!

In the past there have been calls for the county to sell the fairgrounds and let a private entity operate it, but that idea was not received well by commissioners and the public.

Jane Smith is a retired Meadville Tribune reporter who specialized in covering government and politics.

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