Casey won't budge on 4-H agent

May 20, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - The Casey County Extension District Board apparently does not intend to change its 2004-2005 budget that excludes a 4-H agent but says it will meet with the University of Kentucky Department of Agriculture to discuss the matter.

When asked about the budget in Wednesday's meeting, Chairman John Gossage said the budget has been approved by the board and passed through Casey Fiscal Court without any recommended changes. He also said none of the board members has requested changes.

"We will be discussing the matter with the University of Kentucky," Gossage said after the meeting. "We don't want to close the office doors."

Angela Parker, who has children in the 4-H program, said she doesn't think the current budget meets the needs in the county, and she has recommended that the 4-H agent's position not be dropped from the three-agent extension program.


The district board agreed in February to do away with the full-time 4-H agent and hire an extension assistant to work 20 hours a week with youth programs. The board said the action was due to an estimated $23,000 shortfall in funding for the 2004-2005 fiscal year.

The assistant would be paid $10,000 without fringe benefits annually. The assistant would get help from the family and consumer sciences and agricultural agents and from volunteers, according to the board.

Since that time, several people have expressed displeasure in the move that would leave Jan Atwood, 4-H agent, without a job.

UK threatening to shut down entire extension program

A letter from the UK College of Agriculture indicated that UK will work with the local board in solving budget problems, and also threatened to shut down the entire extension program in Casey County if the local board does not take measures to keep the 4-H program in place.

Parker repeated the same question several times about reconsidering the budget only to hear Gossage say the budget process has been finished.

"Are we going to sit by while this office shuts down?" she asked, adding that UK says if the plan is not reconsidered, it will shut down.

"We'll have to work it out with UK," said board member Ricky Cannon. He said there is no meeting scheduled and the next move will be up to UK. "We're leaving it up to UK, if they want to meet with us, we'll meet. The ball is in their court to set a meeting," said Cannon.

Carol Benson, 5th District extension service director, said a meeting with UK to discuss the matter can be set.

Parker also said two members of the county 4-H Council, Phyllis Williams and Bonnie Shackleford, who were not able to attend the Wednesday meeting, have requested the meetings be held in the evenings so they can attend.

Gossage said the meeting time was set during the day by board members because one member cannot drive at night. Cannon also said having the extension service office open during the day makes it more convenient if the board needs to get in touch with someone about business. Two board members own dairy farms, and night meetings would have to be scheduled late, he said. No action was taken.

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