CRYSTAL FALLS—At the Feb. 11 Iron County Board meeting, commissioners voted to pay the Michigan State University Extension Office (MSUE) the $30,000 that was requested for a part-time 4-H coordinator.
Originally, the board budgeted $17,000, but it was not enough to fulfill MSUE’s request. During the meeting, Administrator Sue Clisch notified the board of the extra revenue sharing money the county will receive from the state of Michigan. The county will receive $6,363 more than they budgeted.
Add that with the way department heads have saved money, she told the board that she believes the county could afford to pay the $30,000. The county would still need to find the remaining $6,700.
Before the decision was made, the board heard from concerned 4-H leaders about the program.
Marvin Hill of the sharpshooters club said that he has had several sleepless nights because he was concerned that the 4-H club would not be maintained in Iron County. He asked the board to approve what was needed to keep the coordinator in Iron County.
He also notified the board that the Iron County Sharpshooters Club is fourth in the nation in kids’ shooting for the VFW postal matches. He has also been working to create a range in his own basement where club members could practice to keep the club going. Due to the recent propane issues, the club’s normal shooting range has been closed down.
“So, let’s not drop the ball,” he said. “Let’s keep these kids going.”
Another speaker said she was concerned about the effect the 4-H cut would have on the Iron County Fair. “We would not only be losing our 4-H, we would also be losing our fair.
Don Wolf, an assistant 4-H leader, said he agrees that 4-H is highly important, but also understands that a good extension coordinator is needed in the county.
“If our extension agent is totally to be a 4-H agent, then we have a problem,” he said. “The extension agent isn’t just here for 4-H but to help our farmers, our loggers and other members of our community.”
“I hope the board does the right thing, but at the same time, I hope MSU doesn’t blackmail us into paying outrageous fees for an extension agent who doesn’t do his/her job,” Wolf said.
Commissioner Carl Lind made the motion to fund the Extension office in the amount of $30,000.
“I firmly believe that every dollar spent on youth is money well-spent,” he said.
Commissioner Patti Peretto said she is concerned about the service Iron County will get from the agent.
“I guess it just upsets me,” she said. “I’ve seen what Michigan State has done in the past and how they have dropped the ball. I’m in favor of keeping 4-H, we need that. I am not happy that we are being held hostage by having to pay that much.”
Commissioner Tim Aho said he would like to see some type of system set up for accountability. “We need to get communication and accountability,” he said.
Doug Brahee, the MSU interim district coordinator, said they do not have an agriculture extension educator in every district because of the lack of funds.
At this time, he said that the county would have a half-time 4-H coordinator in addition to the full-time consumer horticulture coordinator in Iron County for $30,000.
He also notified the board that the MSU Extension office is in the process of hiring a new 4-H coordinator supervisor for District 1. He said that that supervisor will be on board to take care of the performance or personnel issues.
Because the motion is different from what the board had budgeted, the board needs to approve a budget amendment at its next meeting to be in compliance with the truth in budgeting act.