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Fair,Olson settle

The Red River Valley Fair Association will pay $10,000 to its former fair manager to settle an ongoing lawsuit, its executive committee agreed Monday night.

The Red River Valley Fair Association will pay $10,000 to its former fair manager to settle an ongoing lawsuit, its executive committee agreed Monday night.

Bruce Olson will receive $10,000 from the association's insurance company in return for both parties agreeing to drop their lawsuits.

Former fair board president Kyle Anderson said the settlement will put an end to the "dark cloud" over the fair.

"I think it's for the best for everyone to move on," Anderson said. "It's time to move on."

In December 2005, Olson sued the fair association and Anderson for breach of contract. Olson, who was fair manager for 15 years, claimed he was illegally fired and asked for at least $100,000 each from the association and Anderson.


The fair association denied the allegations and filed a counterclaim, saying Olson converted at least $292,049 for his personal use and destroyed financial records to hide it.

According to the settlement, the payment to Olson "is not under any circumstances to be construed as an admission of liability" by the fair association or Anderson.

"It is a nuisance settlement. It is to get rid of a bad situation not caused by anything you have done," fair attorney Jonathan Garaas told the executive committee.

Seven members of the nine-member committee unanimously agreed to accept the settlement.

Members Robyn Sorum and Diane Lehmann were not at the meeting.

In a statement released Monday night, Olson said he always acted with the association's best interest in mind and worked hard to ensure its success. He maintains he did not take money from the fair association.

"I have been told that the Red River Valley Fair Association does not have insurance that would cover the judgment I could have obtained if I chose to continue to pursue the claims I asserted. Accordingly, I chose to settle the lawsuit in exchange for $10,000 to resolve the matter for the parties," Olson said.

About two weeks ago, Olson's attorney suggested a mediation session, Garaas said. Olson's side wanted $100,000 to settle, and the fair association's side didn't want to pay anything, Garaas said.


"I was probably the most generous. I offered $1,000 of my own money to put this thing to rest," he said.

After further discussion among attorneys, $10,000 was decided. The fair association's insurance company said it would pay the money to reach a settlement.

"It is not responsible to spend more money when you can resolve this matter for $10,000," Garaas told the committee. "It's not going to be conducive to good governance on your part to have a constant festering sore that just gets picked at and picked at and picked at."

Olson has 14 days to read the settlement before he has to sign it. He then has seven days after he signs it to change his mind.

Garaas told board members they could have gone into executive session to discuss the settlement, but would have had to discuss it publicly afterwards anyway.

"We have tried to comply with open records (law) in every sense of the term for the last two years, no matter what anybody else may think," Garaas said.

The association's insurance company will pay the legal costs associated with the lawsuit, which Garaas estimates to be about $100,000.

Board member Roger Arzt made the motion to approve the settlement.


"I'd like to get this behind us," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Teri Finneman at (701) 241-5560

Fair,Olson settle Teri Finneman 20071030

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