CARROLLTON, Ohio — The youth involved in the Carroll County 4-H program will get to see their projects compete at the county fair in late July but after that, the program may become just a memory.
Ohio State University Extension announced June 4 that the Carroll County Extension office is closing June 11.
The closing will end all agricultural, natural resource, community development and family and consumer science programming and staffing immediately in the county.
OSU Extension will work with the local 4-H educator to continue the Carroll County 4-H program until the close of the Ohio State Fair Aug. 8.
Carroll County was one of four Ohio counties that had extension levies on the May 4 ballot. With the defeat of the levy, Carroll County does not have the ability to generate local matching funds needed to keep the extension office open.
Mike Hogan, Carroll County Extension educator, said this means that the youth who have already invested time and money into projects will get to see them through to the county fair and state fair, but then the program will end.
Once the Ohio State Fair is over, the 4-H program and 4-H membership in Carroll County will cease to exist.
“It’s just the reality. We have to deal with the budget issue and the money just isn’t there,” said Hogan.
Carroll County resident Tom Puch is helping coordinate a grassroots effort to bring the Extension office back in some form, and is hopeful something can be done.
Puch said one meeting has already been held with a group of citizens, who are looking at and discussing what can be done to help convince citizens that the Extension is needed in the county.
“We are looking at what we did wrong with the last levy attempt and are trying to come up with an alternative plan. We are trying to figure out how to get citizens to invest in it,” Puch said.
The group is considering a levy on the November ballot, but are not sure of the particulars, including how many mills would be needed.
“We have to regroup and see what we can do,” Puch said.
The group would have until 4 p.m. Aug. 4 to get the levy on the November ballot.
If the ballot issue is successful, OSU Extension would be able to reopen the office and restore services once the revenue generated via the levy is collected. There are no local funds from other sources available to help support the office at this time.
Jackson and Highland counties also had extension levies that were not successful in the May primary election. Jackson County’s advisory committee also plans to seek funds again on the November ballot. Until then, the local match will be funded with contributions from local donors.
Highland County Extension is seeking funding from other sources, including the county government general fund, Extension’s preferred method of local funding. Highland County has minimal funding available to operate its extension office until the end of the calendar year.