Public Rallies Behind Extension, County Agrees to Fund Program
A large, but very orderly crowd of folks gathered in the hallway of the Douglas County Courthouse Monday morning in support of the Douglas County University of Missouri Extension.
When the door to the Commissioners’ Office was opened, those who could moved inside and stood shoulder to shoulder to hear the discussions. Others stood outside the door, straining to pick up a word every now and then or picking up information that was relayed to the waiting crowd still in the hallway.
Presiding Commissioner Larry Pueppke spoke on behalf of the County Commission, giving a brief account of how the budget process works and explaining why it was determined the county would not fund Extension in 2012. It was partly because, he said, the County Council did not meet the deadline in presenting its budget to the Commission. Another factor was simply the lack of money.
Tony DeLong, from Crane, who now serves as county council coordinator for University Extension, sat across the table from Pueppke. Throughout the hour-long meeting, Pueppke and DeLong engaged in discussions as Pueppke also explained to the people the obligations of both the County Council and the County Commission.
Also attending the meeting, in addition to members of the Douglas County Extension Council and dozens of other local concerned citizens, were former Douglas County Extension Program Director Beverly Coberly who now serves as director of off-campus operations for the university, and Rick Sparks, Extension regional director for south central Missouri.
Both Sparks and Coberly provided input that both supported the county’s position and expressed the concern for continuation of Extension in Douglas County.
Early in the meeting it became apparent that a big issue in the disagreement between Extension and the County Commission was a lack of communication. Regardless of who was to blame for that lack of communication, in the end the county agreed to work with the County Council in funding the program this year.
Tied to that agreement was pledges from individuals who said they would make individual donations to the county to help support Extension.
Ray Brame, of eastern Douglas County, started that ball rolling by voluntarily announcing that because he sees the importance of Extension in the county, he would personally pledge $100 for Extension. Others followed, and before the meeting ended a call was made to County Treasurer Theresa Miller to set up a system for receiving donations to support Extension.
Anyone who would like to contribute to the Extension account to help keep the office open can give those donations to the County Treasurer in the courthouse or mail them to the Douglas County Treasurer at PO Box 203, Ava, MO 65608.
Money earmarked for Extension will be kept in an account for that purpose.