WALKER -- The Cass County Board voted Tuesday to apply to the state to become a regional extension service center.
This action is in response to an announcement Director Charles H. Casey made May 14 on the University of Minnesota Extension Service plans to reorganize extension into a regional program rather than have extension offices in most Minnesota counties.
This would reduce the number of University of Minnesota extension offices in the state from around 70 to about 20.
Casey wrote in a letter to county extension and district directors the University of Minnesota is preparing for a 15 percent budget cut and has asked extension to prepare for a 10 percent reduction in state funding.
Extension educators will be located at regional centers. Counties and non-profit agencies will have a choice of contracting with extension to augment regional programs and can contract for programs, services and positions that their counties most want and can afford, Casey wrote.
Locally funded satellite offices could include locally funded extension educators and programs.
Casey said 4-H will continue to be offered throughout the state, but will not be provided with state and federal dollars alone. Counties have to invest more money into 4-H programming than other extension programming, he said.
Criteria for regional centers will be determined by mid-June, with locations selected by July. Regional center position appointments will be made in August. Local/customized positions will be negotiated through the summer.
Regional centers will open in January 2004.
County commissioners, county administrators, a university technology specialist and citizens' advisory committee will set criteria for selecting the regional centers.
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