Indiana State Fair Commission announces restructuring; Hoye to stay


Two new hires Thursday are the latest in a series of changes to make the Indiana State Fair safer after last year's tragic stage collapse that killed seven people.

Weeks ago, Gov. Mitch Daniels promised restructuring at the State Fair Commission. On Thursday, it began with more defined roles from the top down.

To the applause of the State Fair Commission, a Midwest entertainment executive and a city emergency planner are now the faces of safety at the Indiana State Fair.

"You will see some new leadership there and you will absolutely see people with a top priority of safety," said Gov. Daniels in response to the changes.

Jesse Olvera, formerly with City Homeland Security, helped devise a complex emergency plan for Indianapolis. On the job six weeks as the new emergency management officer, he is overseeing training for state fair employees on critical response.

It follows scathing reports by both independent and state labor investigators who found systemic failures by the fair staff the night of the stage collapse.

"Everybody will have a part and everyone will know what their part is. We're moving along. I feel that we're about 90 to 95 percent of where we need to be August 1st," Olvera said, talking about the progress that has already been made.

For the first time, the commission has hired a chief operating officer. David Shaw is a venue manager who has managed crowds of up to 35,000.

Shaw will take on facilities, day to day administration, and the organization's overall safety plan.

"My job one when I start on May 21st is going to be to go to school on the Witt Report," Shaw said, referring to the recommendations from the investigation into safety preparedness.

"What you're hearing is a new tone at the top," said Chairman Andre Lacy, after the introductions.

A new tone, but not a new leader.

"I think this is my 25th year coming up," Cindy Hoye told the Commission.

Cindy Hoye will remain as the executive director, with a narrowed focus.

"Cindy is going to be much more involved in the vision and strategic planning dealing with legal and the foundation," explained Lacy.

Afterwards, she responded to questions about restoring public confidence.

"You've taken a lot of criticism about what happened last August," 13 Investigates said.

"This is what we've talked about from April on. We're using the Witt study, and the IOSHA study and the Thornton Tomasetti study to move us forward," Hoye responded.

We also wanted to ask the new hires about public confidence. Shaw hurried away. Olvera agreed, but was called away.

"Let me run in here real quick," Olvera said politely heeding the call.

Before his exit from the meeting, he made a promise.

"The State Fair this year it's, it's not bubble wrap, but it will be the safest it's ever been and I can guarantee you that," Olvera said.

Former facilities director Dave Hummel will retire in July as part of the restructuring.

Shaw was the Live Nation/clear Channel Entertainment General Manager for Alpine Valley Music Theatre near Milwaukee. He's been charged with getting that safety plan in place before this summer's fair.