Extension offices may merge

A single district overseeing Allen and Neosho counties’ Extension services is being discussed.
Commissioners from the two counties will meet with members of the counties’ Extension Councils Tuesday evening at the Southeast Area Extension office in Chanute to hear more about the proposal. Dr. Jim Lindquist, assistant director for Field Operations, Kansas State University, will be a presenter.
According to information given Allen County commissioners this week, higher operating costs and the need for more specialization prompted discussions.
“Right now, we’re very much generalists,” Allen County Extension agent Carla Nemecek said. Working under a single umbrella would allow the counties to share resources.
Kansas currently has nine Extension districts serving 25 counties, Nemecek said. The proposed Extension district would have a board with four elected members from each county.
Resolutions from each board of county commissioners would be necessary before forming the district.
Commissioners were told:
— A single district would permit better maintenance and expansion of Extension programs in all areas.
— Agents could share their areas of expertise, thus offering more services collectively than the counties do now individually.
— Programming and opportunities for 4-H and youth would increase as memberships and leadership could be shared.
— Each county would continue to have its own office and fair.
Day to day services to the public would not noticeably change, Nemecek said. Primarily, the merging would make both offices more efficient.
“When I first started, it wasn’t unusual to have a soybean meeting in Bourbon County, and one in Allen County, and one in Neosho,” Nemecek said. “Now they are combined.”