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Extension agent to lead Jefferson County, W.Va., 4-H program

February 05, 2002

Extension agent to lead Jefferson County, W.Va., 4-H program



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


Jefferson County's 4-H program will get a West Virginia University County Extension Agent to succeed Jim Staley, who retired from the post in December, State Sen. John Unger said Monday.

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The fate of the position was up in the air as recently as Friday when about 100 Jefferson County residents met with officials from West Virginia University over funding for the job.

"It's now a done deal," Unger said.

WVU will put up $21,000 toward the new agent's salary and the Jefferson County Commissioners will kick in another $14,000 or $15,000 to bring the pay up to about $35,0000, he said. That would be enough to pay for a full-time tenured position.

County extension agents are considered to be peers of WVU faculty in terms of salaries and tenure.

The university originally had proposed hiring a program coordinator to replace Staley, a full-fledged county extension agent, at an entry-level salary of $21,000.

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Under that plan the program coordinator would have been supervised by the county agent in Morgan County.

Lawrence Cote, associate provost for Extension at WVU, on Friday told the Jefferson County audience that the university was scaling back on staffing in WVU county extension offices across the state. He said the state wants a universal funding formula for extension offices.

Some counties have multiple extension agents and full support staff while others have one agent and no staff, he said.

Unger said he met last week with David Hardesty, WVU president and Cote's boss. He said he was concerned about the cutback in light of the growth in the Eastern Panhandle and the 600 youngsters who participate in 4-H in Jefferson County. About 180 adult volunteers also contribute to the county's programs, he said.

"It makes no sense to scale back now," Unger said.

He said he met Monday with Cote and Jane Tabb, a Jefferson County Commissioner. It was agreed that the state would put up $21,000 or $22,000 to pay for an extension agent if the county would put up the rest.

Unger said he expects the commissioners to put up the money. Tabb is on record as supporting the proposal. She and Commissioner James Ruland were in Charleston Monday for other meetings, Unger said.

Commissioner Dean Hockensmith said Monday that he would vote to support the agent's salary. "I'll go along with it. It's a very important program in Jefferson County," he said.

Unger said a search for Staley's successor would begin as soon as the Jefferson County Commissioners approved the salary appropriation.

He said whoever is hired would build on and expand what Staley has accomplished during his tenure.

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