Extension, 4-H could be last for some Ohio counties

WOOSTER, Ohio — He had said it would be the end, and from the way it looks, it might just be.

Mike Hogan, director of Ohio State University Extension in Carroll County, said in April his county would need to pass a .57 mill, five-year tax levy if it was to continue Extension services and 4-H.

Unofficial election results show that it failed, with 57 percent of votes against the levy, and 43 percent in favor.

Tough news

Hogan had few words on May 5 — the day after the election — simply saying “it most likely means we will close.”

The economy has been too big a hurdle to overcome, he said, and without a local source of funds, the county cannot receive state funds from OSU.
The facility that houses the county Extension is rented, and details concerning closure are not yet known.

“We had a group that worked really hard,” he said of those who tried to get the levy passed, adding “the fairboard was supportive of the issue.”

The same uncertainty is baffling Extensions in Highland and Jackson counties, where levies there also were defeated.

We have to regroup and the actual ‘Highland for Extension’ committee levy will have to look at the options and decide how they will like to move forward,” said Highland County Extension Director Rose Fisher Merkowitz.

Her county was seeking a .45 mill levy, with the intent that a failed vote would cause all programs to be “severely reduced or eliminated.”

She said Extension will have enough funds to get through November, and this year’s fair will go on as usual, but funds will need to appear if it is to continue.

“It’s extremely disappointing, a very sad day for Highland County,” she said.

Slim as it gets

Jackson County Extension Director Erin Dailey is already used to a slim staff and program. In fact, she’s the only OSU-supported staff member in the office, and it can’t get any slimmer. Commissioners appropriated no money for Jackson’s Extension in 2010.

The county sought a .25 mill five-year levy, half the amount it asked for in the November elections. But it was defeated by 550 votes, with 55 percent of votes against the levy, and 45 percent in favor.

Dailey said its back to the drawing board, and back to meetings to decide if and from where money will come.

“Right now we’re not really sure. …We’re going to meet with the Extension support committee on Monday,” she said, as well as administration from the OSU Extension in Columbus.

Van Wert successful

The only county to pass a levy for Extension was Van Wert County, where voters approved a .4 mill, five-year levy.

Extension Director Andy Kleinschmidt was delighted, because now his county can maintain what it has, and potentially make improvements.
Sixty-four percent of the vote was in favor of the levy, with 34 percent against.

“That is a very positive margin,” he said. “This means that we now have — beginning in 2011 — full funding for Extension services and for the citizens of Van Wert County.”

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

5 Comments

  1. Sara says:

    This sucks, this is deffinetly going to effect our children. I know I for one wanted to make sure that my child got to be apart of 4h, as I and my husband were. Some people think that whenever it raises taxes you vote against it. If the benefit out ways the cost then sometimes you just need to suck it up. I hope youth crime doesn’t go up, but when you take something away they fill it with something else. To bad more counties didn’t have the same results as Van Wert.

  2. April says:

    I hope that soon people realize they are not supporting the future of the youths in OHIO. We need to find another way besides taxes to support organizations. Relatives in Idaho pay a $5 state fee to be in 4-H. But when does the state and nation realize we are taxing us out of irreplaceable assets and the homes we have? Can we do some accurate cost accounting and find waste in things? There is a growing distance between the haves and have nots.

  3. mary gibson says:

    Perhaps if all industrial farms were taxed correctly instead of getting their operations at the expense of others in the communities in which they are located this would not be necessary. My children also grew up in 4H and enjoyed it too but with the onset of industrial livestock operations the image they had in their minds was destroyed. With one of these industrial farms 500 feet west of our home, you can understand why they would not have my grandchildren enrolled in 4H. A sad commentary on the shape of the livestock industry in Ohio. We had a lovely home that was rendered worthless when the North Preston site waws allowed to impact it. The permits were given for Preston Road, a mile to the west which would have had a woods in between protecting our home from the pungent, disgusting odor emanating from this so called farm. Needless to say the owner does not enjoy the same lack of quality of life that we were forced to endure. Farm Bureau through the years has done all it could to protect this operation rather than creating a two tier system of animal industry such as most other states have. Our home is back on the market but unless we give it away, I am sure it will not sell.

    This is not a good selling point for Ohio and certainly not a good selling point for the livestock industry in Ohio. It is why I am grateful for the HSUS coming into Ohio to correct some of the issues we have here!

  4. mary gibson says:

    The North Preston site is part of 60 poultry buildings owned by Park Farms of
    Canton. They recently had all their buildings reappraised from 43,500. per building down to 4300 and 5500 per building a gigantic saving for this corporation! Perhaps this is money that 4H could have used.

  5. Starkfarm says:

    This is sad seeing as how Ohio is credited with the birthplace of 4-H.

    Hopefully Carroll County will carry on its program. Years ago Stark county didn’t have the backing of extension but between the Stark County Senior Fair Board and the farmers, 4-Hers and family it put on a fair anyways.

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