GOLD BEACH Equestrians boarding their horses at the Event Center on the Beach told the fair board last week that they are tired of literally being kept in the dark.

The boarders were concerned about family members having to go into the dark arena building to get shavings for their stalls in the horse barn.

They said even the outside light on the arena building does not work much of the time because of a malfunctioning photoelectric sensor. Boarders were concerned transients could be hiding in or around the building.

Board member Don Flynn agreed with the boarders about the safety problem. I wouldnt want my family walking in the dark either, he said.

Board member David Smith said he would also like to see the lights on for at least an hour a night.

With only two board members present, there was no quorum for official action, but Manager Ron Crook said he will leave on one row of lights from 5 to 7 p.m. during the winter. He will also have his maintenance people fix the outside light.

The boarders appeared to be happy to hear that, but also wanted more lights so they could ride in the arena on winter nights.

They agreed that a half bank of lights would provide plenty of illumination for riding at night, even without the grandstand lights.

They objected to the charge of $2.50 an hour for half a bank of lights and said the wattage really costs about 85 cents an hour. They felt the lights should be included in the stall rent.

Those who dont board at the center can still purchase time in the arena. They also must pay for the lights by the hour, so no one is getting anything for free, Flynn said.

Crook said they also need to factor in the costs of bulbs and the personnel to replace them, electrical losses from the ballasts, and the fact that the event center is trying to do a bit more than break even on horse boarding.

He said the center still has a problem with people who use the arena without paying at all.

Smith favored turning the lights on at a set time each evening and dividing the costs between the boarders. He asked how many stalls were currently being rented.

A boarder said 21 stalls are now being rented, bringing in $871 a month to the event center. The average boarder pays about $100 a month, plus the cost of shavings.

The issue is whether youll be able to draw people in the winter, said one boarder, They come to use the arena.

A lot of people thought that (lighting) was included when boarding, said another, Im here, hopefully, year-round.

We would like to say we can do it, but were low on all rates for the fairgrounds. We need to maintain them well, but keep rents affordable, Flynn said.

Crook said he would poll the other board members on the lighting issue. He said all rates would have to be reviewed for next years budget, and compared with similar facilities.

In other event center business, Crook said hed submitted several projects to be prioritized by the countys 2001 Needs and Issues Inventory.

He said he is trying to get grants for the most critical needs. He said an example was the chairs the board members were sitting on.

The chairs and tables for event functions are now 34 years old. There are only 350 chairs left out of the original 500.

Crook also said he wants to get a new Event Center on the Beach sign constructed in time for the Shriners convention in June.

Because of the lack of a quorum, the board could not choose a theme for the 2001 Curry County Fair.

The 79 suggestions so far include Little Town, Crazy Clowns and Ho-Downs, When all Elves Fail, Have Fun, and Earth Quaken, Fair Shaken in Curry County.