There will be some new faces greeting people walking into the Ravalli County fairgrounds office soon.
Both the fairgrounds manager and the office’s administrative assistant will be leaving the office in the next couple of weeks.
Fairgrounds manager Cryss Anderson notified the county this week that March 15 will be her last day. Her assistant – and the only other fulltime fairgrounds employee – Darlene Reese is expected to leave about a week earlier.
“I’m sad to go, but I had another opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Reese said Thursday. “Our decisions to leave were made completely independent of each other.”
Anderson said the decision to leave the job wasn’t easy.
She has served as the fairgrounds manager for a little over a year after taking over the reins from Deborah Rogala when she retired. Anderson has worked at the fairgrounds for more than five years.
“I just really felt like I needed to be able to spend more time with my family,” Anderson said. “This job is time consuming.”
Over the last five years, Anderson said she’s seen the use of the fairgrounds and its First Interstate Center increase dramatically.
“There are events that are happening there almost every weekend,” Anderson said. “It’s a great space that could be utilized even more…It’s also a lot for our small staff to handle.”
Besides the two full time positions, the fairgrounds employees a part-time person doing data entry.
Ravalli County Commission Chair Jeff Burrows said the county is currently accepting applications for both of the open positions.
While Burrows is confident in the county’s ability to keep the fairgrounds open to the community during the search for two new employees, there is likely to be some challenges ahead.
“Losing the number two person there puts us in a tough position for the transition,” Burrows said. “Typically, the number two person would help with that transition. We’ll take it as it comes and make it works the best we can.”
Ravalli County Human Resources Director Robert Jenne said the county has already received about 17 applications for the administrative assistant. When the county hired Anderson, it received about 11 applications, including several who were well qualified.
“Both of these ladies have done a really good job,” Jenne said. “They will be missed.”
Anderson said she will be willing to help the next fair manager get their feet on the ground.
“I love the fair and I loved my job,” she said. “It was a hard one to walk away from, but hopefully it will give more time to volunteer in the future and help to ensure that there’s a smooth transition. It was a hard choice to make.”