IBJNews

Indiana State Fair makes management changes

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana State Fair Commission on Thursday announced management changes spurred by last summer's deadly stage rigging collapse, including the retirement of a longtime employee who was noted in a report about the accident.

The other moves include the hiring of a new chief operating officer and a new director of safety and security for the fairgrounds. They follow commission members' vote last month to make management changes recommended by consultants who investigated the Aug. 13 disaster that killed seven people and injured dozens more.

Those consultants found that the stage rigging that toppled onto a crowd awaiting a concert by the country duo Sugarland didn't meet industry safety standards and that the fair's emergency plan was inadequate and resulted in confusion about who was in charge.

Officials on Thursday quietly announced the retirement of fairgrounds facilities manager Dave Hummel, who was noted in a report that criticized confusion among fair officials over their responsibilities. A news release said Hummel's retirement was "part of restructuring state fair staff."

As facilities manager, Hummel was in charge of building maintenance and event services such as concessions, admissions and parking, commission spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland said. Those duties would have included the grandstand where the Sugarland concert was to be held.

The Associated Press was unable to reach Hummel for comment Thursday. His home phone number was not in published listings, and an office number was disconnected.

McFarland said she did not believe Hummel was forced out. "He wanted to retire at this point. My understanding is that Dave has been considering retiring for some time," she told the AP. She said Hummel had worked for the fair for three decades or more.

But she also said all of the organizational changes came in response to the investigations of the accident.

A report by emergency preparation experts from Washington-based Witt Associates criticized "a lack of oversight or responsibility for the ISFC's contracts with its contractors," including the contract with the company that owned and built the stage rigging that later collapsed. The report said Hummel and other fair officials tried to pin responsibility for the contract on each other during interviews a month after the disaster.

The report also said that Hummel's position had authority over fair security, and that while he had "heard" of the fair's existing emergency response plan, he "was not aware of his position's specific responsibilities in the plan."

Officials also announced Thursday that David Shaw would start work May 21 as chief operating officer for the fairgrounds, overseeing day-to-day operations. Shaw said his "job one" would be to "go to school" on consultants' reports that recommended ways to improve safety at the fair.

Putting Shaw's plan for improving safety into place will be the job of Jessie Olvera, the fair's new director of safety and security. Olvera previously worked as a training and exercise coordinator for what is now the Indianapolis Division of Homeland Security, and helped the city develop and implement its comprehensive emergency management plan, officials said. Commission Chairman Andre Lacy said Olvera would also supervise safety-related employee training and public safety.

The state fair this year "will be the safest it's ever been. ... I guarantee that," Olvera told the commission during Thursday's meeting.

Shaw, a Noblesville native and Ball State University graduate, has previously managed several entertainment venues, including the 36,600-seat Alpine Valley Music Theatre near Milwaukee and the 28,500-seat First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre near Chicago. He also will oversee the renovation of the Pepsi Coliseum.

Lacy said one of Shaw's most important tasks will be to develop an emergency response protocol for various events and venues at the fairgrounds. Investigators concluded that the fair's existing protocol was unclear and resulted in confusion about who was in charge.

McFarland said the final decision to order an evacuation would be up to the chief operating officer.

Shaw will report to the fair's executive director, Cindy Hoye, who's been criticized for not evacuating concert fans ahead of severe weather. Lacy said Hoye will remain in charge of "vision" and strategy for the fair.

McFarland said Shaw would be paid $95,000 a year, while Olvera would receive a $58,000 salary.

Lacy said Hummel would be replaced by Ray Allison, who had been the fair's director of safety and security.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • really??
    Then why don't YOU jump in to make things better?! AND what is YOUR training that justifies you to criticize?
  • Dave Hummel
    What did Dave Hummel have to do with the outdoor stage that collapsed? Nothing. I suspect he just won't have a pro shop to operate for 2 years, so he won't be getting a paycheck.
  • Scape Goat
    The Witt report talks about Cindy Hoye's lack of response, not some subordinate.

    The true hero is the state trooper who made two efforts to evacuate and had to responded to the disaster after Hoye ignored him.

    Independent Assessment of the Indiana State Fair Collapse Presentation

    http://www.wittassociates.com/news/archive/appearances/2012/04/12/independent-assessment-of-the-indiana-state-fair-collapse-presentation/
  • Wow, only in government
    Fairgrounds facilities manager Dave Hummel is out, but the state fair's executive director, Cindy Hoye is still there???

    Don't think the stage construction would have mattered if everyone was evacuated sooner like the governor's family.
    • Top 2
      The top 2 catastrophes caused by human negligence in the past 50 years in Indiana were caused by the Indiana State Fair Board's stupidity. The first was on 10/31/1963 when a big part of the Coliseum blew up. Then the Sugarland debacle. The Fair Board is and always has been a Mafia-style group that exists to line the pockets of their friends.

      Post a comment to this story

      COMMENTS POLICY
      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
       
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
       
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
       
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
       
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
       

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by
      ADVERTISEMENT

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
       
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. Great article and post scripts by Mike L (Great addition to IBJ BTW). Bobby's stubborn as a mule, and doubt if he ever comes back to IU. But the love he would receive would be enormous. Hope he shows some time, but not counting on it.

      2. When the Indiana GOP was going around the State selling the Voucher bill they were promising people that the vouchers would only be for public charter schools. They lied. As usual.

      3. I am Mr. Morris Ray, a Legitimate And a Reputable money Lender. We lend funds out to individuals in need of financial assistance, we give loan to people that have a bad credit or in need of money to pay bills, to invest on business. Have you been looking for loan? you have not to worry, because you are in the right place i offer loan at low interest rate of 2% so if you are in need of a loan i want you to just contact me via this email Address: morris_ray123@outlook.com

      4. Jim, your "misleading" numbers comment is spot on. This is the spin these posers are putting on it. News flash, fans: these guys lie. They are not publicly traded so no one holds them accountable for anything they say. The TV numbers are so miniscule to begin with any "increase" produces double digit "growth" numbers. It's ridiculous to think that anything these guys have done has awakened the marketplace. What have they done? Consolidate the season so they run more races on consecutive weekends? And this creates "momentum." Is that the same momentum you enjoy when you don't race between August and March? Keep in mind that you are running teams who barely make ends meet ragged over the summer to accomplish this brilliant strategy of avoiding the NFL while you run your season finale at midnight on the East Coast. But I should not obfuscate my own point: any "ratings increase" is exactly what Jim points to - the increased availability of NBC Sports in households. Look fans, I love the sport to but these posers are running it off a cliff. Miles wants to declare victory and then run for Mayor. I could go on and on but bottom line for God's sake don't believe a word they say. Note to Anthony - try doing just a little research instead of reporting what these pretenders say and then offering an "opinion" no more informed than the average fan.

      5. If he's finally planning to do the right thing and resign, why not do it before the election? Waiting until after means what - s special election at tax payer expense? Appointment (by whom?) thus robbing the voters of their chance to choose? Does he accrue some additional financial advantage to waiting, like extra pension payments? What's in it for him? That's the question that needs to be asked.

      ADVERTISEMENT