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Jefferson agent leaving 4-H post

August 06, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jeff Himes, who took over Jefferson County's 4-H extension agent position at a time when there was concern over the future of the position, is leaving the job for a similar post in Marion County, W.Va., officials said.

Himes decided to leave the 4-H extension job here so he could be closer to West Virginia University to possibly work on a graduate degree, said Judy Matlick, Jefferson County's extension agent.

Himes, who held the job for about a year, also was concerned about the high cost of living in the Eastern Panhandle, said Matlick, adding that 4-H extension agents are paid the same across the state.

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"It was a number of things," Matlick said.

Himes said Tuesday another reason he is leaving is to return to an area where coal mining is part of the economy.

The 43-year-old Cambria County, Pa., native worked as a coal miner as a young man, following a long tradition of coal mining in his family. Himes said returning to Marion County, home of Fairmont, W.Va., "seems to fit me better."

A West Virginia University official declined to say what the pay range is for Himes' position. But Brian Westfall, director of human resources for WVU's extension service, did say there are no pay differentials for different parts of the state to offset costs of living expenses.

Matlick said the position is secure because funding for the position, part of which comes from the Jefferson County Commission and the Jefferson County Board of Education, still is in place.

West Virginia University officials have a possible candidate within their system for the job, Matlick said. If that candidate does not work out, WVU officials will go outside the system to find a replacement, Matlick said.

Himes' last day is a week from Friday, Matlick said.

Himes was hired for the job after longtime 4-H agent Jim Staley retired.

WVU considered not funding the job after Staley retired, which caused concern among dozens of people in Jefferson County who support 4-H.

After persistent concerns about the job, which included a public meeting attended by about 100 people, the job was saved when WVU and the Jefferson County Commission agreed to share the cost of the position's salary.

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