Dianne Shoemaker and I have been sharing this Dairy Channel column since 1997, I think. That’s a total of about 130 Dairy Channel articles for each of us.
I’ve received many compliments on the articles and one e-mail criticizing the content of one article.
I feel the articles have been an extremely valuable opportunity for us to address important issues relevant to the dairy industry and some broader farm management issues. I have tried to make every article factual, relevant and interesting for you.
Thanks to Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell, Dianne, and you readers for your patience and understanding. I have truly enjoyed the opportunity.
No funds. Many of you are aware that the Columbiana County Extension Office has been on lean times for the past year. We received no county appropriation for 2006 and even if the 0.5 percent sales and use tax should pass this November, it is extremely unlikely that we will receive any county budget for 2007.
We have operated without secretarial support since February, reduced office hours and curtailed some programs because of the reduced budget and reduced staff. Although we have raised more than $35,000 this year, most of it has been designated for 4-H.
Therefore, support for my agriculture, natural resources and community development programs is pretty much used up. We have cut our travel and attendance of technical updates and in-services due to lack of funds. We have used up funds from our office checking account.
By the end of January there will be nothing left to keep the agriculture, natural resources and community development programs going.
Critical. The future of extension programs in Columbiana County depend on having an adequate county general fund. The 0.5 percent sales and use tax is critical to the future of Columbiana County. I believe it is the fairest tax we have. If you don’t spend money, you don’t pay it.
Twenty percent of the sales tax revenue generated in Columbiana County is paid by people from other counties who come here to shop. Why should we give them a tax break for coming here to shop when we are struggling to fund vital, important county services and departments?
You can’t stop the retirement of your county extension agriculture educator, but you can insure the extension office, soil and water conservation district and other vital programs will be funded in the future. You need to think carefully about this Nov. 7.
Two projects. I have reduced my programs to two main projects, the Columbiana County Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the Salem Area Sustainable Comprehensive Plan. These two projects are taking just about all my time these days, along with answering the phone and helping to keep track of the financial affairs of the office.
Both of these planning projects are into the critical phase of data collection, research and writing of the various parts of each plan. There are about 15 focus groups which are each meeting numerous times to organize the work and write the various sections of these plans.
This is important work, planning for the future of Columbiana County and the greater Salem community 25-50 years into the future. We need more people to help with the work. You can get involved by contacting the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce in Salem at 330-337-3473 or by contacting me at the Columbiana County Extension Office 330-424-7291.
Time to retire. My plans for the near future are to continue work on these comprehensive planning projects until the end of January, conduct pesticide certification training for private applicators Jan. 15 and then retire Feb. 1.
Funding may be gone before the end of January, but I plan to work at least through Jan. 15 in order to complete the annual pesticide training program. Private pesticide applicators will receive information about the re-certification program very soon.
This will be my last Dairy Channel article. It’s time to take down my shingle and go on to other things. I will retire, but I will not really retire. I have too many important, fun things left to do. I’ll just be working at some new challenges and figuring out new ways to enjoy work and living.
I wish you a joyous and safe holiday season. I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous year in 2007. Thanks to all of you who have been supportive, cooperative and friendly.
It’s time to move on.
(The author is an agricultural extension educator in Columbiana County. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)