Extension office feels economic pinch

Posted on January 13th in News

4-H members must pay new participation fee

By Debbie Raney
Burns Times-Herald

The economic crunch has officially worked its way through all aspects of state funding. The latest pinch will be felt locally in the Oregon State University Extension Office.

At the Jan. 6 meeting of the Harney County Court, Shana Withee and Dustin Johnson presented to the court possible scenarios the extension office may be facing in the near future. Most of the change will be seen in the Family and Community Health portion of Withee’s job. She said 30 percent of her job title and funding is for teaching nutrition. To continue to receive federal funding, she may be required to make additions to the present program, including visiting rural schools.

If she is directed by the state to take this approach, an additional job will be added. Withee told the court that she wanted to forewarn the county that this could be a possibility, as finding room for another office space could be a problem in an already crowded area.

One change that has already been instigated in the extension office is a participation fee for all 4-H members. Beginning with the 2009-2010 enrollment, each participant will be required to pay a $15 fee. Withee explained that these fees will be used to fund activities at the state level such as judging teams and state fair events.

Withee said that in Harney County during the 2008-2009 4-H year, 426 youth were enrolled in the program in Harney County. There were also 102 volunteer leaders who helped to organize 64 clubs. In addition to the 4-H clubs, the local Extension Office puts on a five-day science camp during the summer, jointly organizes 4-H Camp at Logan Valley with the Grant County 4-H program, takes kids to a leadership retreat, offers babysitter training in partnership with Harney District Hospital and gets kids to the Oregon State Summer Conference. “This is a well-rounded program,” said Withee.

In other business during the Jan. 6 meeting:

• the court approved a request from High Desert Designs, Inc., (HDDI) asking to trade an overdue rent bill for improvements that had been made to the building at 29903 Hotchkiss Lane.

HDDI’s proposal said that the company had put in four 110 volt drops, two 220 volt drops, as well as outlets and a three-phase connection and steel pipe. “Rather than remove our property (drops, wiring, piping and connection materials) we propose that the county accept the above listed HDDI property and costs incurred to HDDI in exchange for the amount owing for past due rent.”
The rent due to the county from HDDI is, according to Treasurer Nellie Franklin, $2,050. During the discussion of the proposal, the question of whether an air compressor that HDDI had installed would be left as part of the equipment. It was agreed that a clarification would need to be made about the air compressor, in order for the court to make a decision;

• Malheur Wildlife Refuge Manager Tim Bodeen explained to the court the status of the refuge’s comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) process. Bodeen said that through public meetings, individual one-on-one meetings with permit holders  and meetings with organizations such as the Farm Bureau and Stockgrowers, the refuge had gathered comments and input that would now allow the process to advance to the next step of  developing the CCP.

“In February,” Bodeen said, “we’ll begin the real CCP.”

Commissioner Dan Nichols voiced concern that because of past history, people felt it would be a waste of time to voice their ideas and concerns. “The perception is that they’re not going to be paid attention to.”

Bodeen said he believed the process was allowing for all of those “people who care about the refuge,” to give input.
Nichols said, “That’s where the frustration is. The 7,500 residents are run roughshod over by those 65,000 visitors;”

• The court made the following appointments for the 2010 year: county budget officer, Steve Grasty; county medical investigator, Julie Burri; county health officer, Dr. Holland Haynie; pro tempore justice of the peace, Sandra L. Richards and Stephen Finlayson; and official newspaper, Burns Times-Herald.

• An addendum to the Operations Plan for Harney County Landfills was made to abide by Oregon’s 2007 Electronics Recycling Law. The law prohibits any person from disposing of computers, monitors and televisions at sold waste disposal facilities.

New signs will be posted at the Diamond, Drewsey, Fields, Frenchglen and Riley sites. Landfill operators will also be required to inspect incoming loads for the prohibited materials.

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