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No replacement on horizon for Jefferson County 4-H coordinator

February 04, 2002

No replacement on horizon for Jefferson County 4-H coordinator



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va. - Representatives from West Virginia University met Friday with Jefferson County residents for the third time to work out a solution for replacing the county's 4-H director.

The parties were no closer to a solution following the meeting.

About 100 concerned residents showed up to meet with West Virginia University 4-H Director Larry LeFlore and university representative Lawrence Cote.

The problem surfaced in December with the December retirement of long-time local 4-H Director Jim Staley, leaving the county's extension office with two agents, neither of whom coordinate the 550 children who participate in 4-H programs every year.

The university's latest proposal, as outlined by Cote at Friday night's meeting, is to replace Staley with a program coordinator.

The university considers the job an entry-level position with a starting salary of around $21,000 a year. The job also requires a bachelor's degree. County extension agents are university faculty members with the same rights and salaries.

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Several residents argued that the post would be impossible to fill when a starting teacher earns $27,000 a year on a 200-day work schedule.

The new program coordinator would be supervised in part by the extension agent in Morgan County.

Dels. Dale Manuel and John Doyle, both D-Jefferson, proposed replacing Daley with a full-, tenured agent with a starting salary in the $35,000 range. The university would pay $21,000 and the county, through the County Commissioners or Board of Education, both of which support the 4-H program with more than $90,000 each year, would put up the rest.

Cote balked at the idea saying, in effect, that it would give Jefferson County special privilege. He said the university is trying to come up with a universal funding plan that would equalize extension offices in all 55 counties.

"Some counties only have one agent and no secretary or assistant," he said. "What would I say to those counties."

Residents argued back that Jefferson County is a leader in 4-H across West Virginia, that its program is successful because of the interest and hard work of adults and volunteers and that the program needs its own full-time coordinator.

The issue may have to be resolved with special action of the West Virginia Legislature.

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