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University of Missouri Extension Office Is Again Open on Fridays

With the receipt of matching allocations from the City of Ava, a grant from the Douglas County Community Foundation, donations received from the people of Douglas County and meticulous budgeting and planning by the Douglas County Extension Council, the Extension office was able to resume regular business hours on Fridays beginning Oct. 4.
For the last three years, due to local budget deficits, the University of Missouri Douglas County Extension office has operated at a reduced capacity by closing on Fridays in order to save money. “Funding for the University of Missouri Extension is somewhat unique,” said Angie Fletcher, Douglas County program director. “The University of Missouri supports the salary and benefits for faculty and staff in the office with the exception of the office manager.  Financial support for the office manager’s salary and benefits, office supplies and program dollars are all dependent on local, i.e. county, funding.
“For the past three years, we have cut our office manager’s hours (resulting in the decrease in office hours, hence decreasing our services to the public), not purchased office supplies and had travel donated by faculty and staff in order to save money,” Fletcher said.
The new office hours will be Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-12 noon and 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
“This is a return to full time service we have been hoping for,” said Fletcher. “All this has been made possible with the support we have received from the community. Without that support, we would be looking at a reduction in services vs. an increase in them.”
While the return to full time service is planned for the rest of 2013, continuation will be dependent on allocations received from the County Commission for 2014. “We are keeping a very close eye on our budget,” said Fletcher, “we are hoping for a return to receiving full funding as in the past from the Commission to continue our services at this level to the community.”
For further information on the services provided by the Douglas County Extension office, visit their website at www.extension.  or stop by their office located in the Douglas County Courthouse.
MU Extension Nutrition Progams Affected by
Federal Shut Down
Due to the federal government shutdown, the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) has advised University of Missouri Extension to suspend certain federally funded nutrition education programs until further notice.
This suspension will affect more than 100 extension faculty and staff as well as the clients they serve, including 260,000 K-12 students and 78,000 adults at more than 1,000 schools, libraries and other sites across the state.
University Extension personnel in Douglas County teach nutrition classes and related programs to some 1,500 students at Ava, Skyline and Plainview schools, and also assist with supplemental food programs at Heart of the Hills Food Harvest as well as emergency food distributions in the area.
These nutrition education programs receive $10.4 million in federal funding from the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for extension teaching and training. DSS administers the funding.
All affected SNAP educational programs, including classes, outreach efforts and other activities, are suspended as of 5 p.m. Oct. 3.
To minimize long-term disruption to these programs, MU Extension will fund the affected positions through Oct. 21. However, if permanent funding is not restored by then, MU Extension will be forced to issue layoffs because of insufficient internal funding.
Although temporarily keeping these positions on the payroll does impose a financial burden on MU Extension, immediate layoffs would mean potentially even greater costs for severance pay and related expenses. Layoffs would also increase the cost of resuming family nutrition programs once funding is restored.
“If at all possible, we do not want to lose these employees and the investment we have made in them,” said Michael Ouart, MU vice provost and director of extension. “These employees have built valuable relationships in communities all across Missouri. Losing them would have long-lasting effects on the health and eating habits of future generations of Missouri’s children.”
The temporary internal funding will keep the employees on the payroll but cannot cover the costs of travel, supplies and other expenses needed to maintain programming. During this time, faculty and staff involved in the affected family nutrition programs will communicate cancellations to schools and constituents and prepare for the resumption of normal operations should funding be restored.
MU Extension administration informed affected employees of the situation on Oct. 3. “We realize this is a difficult and stressful time for these dedicated employees who perform a valuable service for families in Missouri,” Ouart said. “We’re cautiously optimistic that funding will be restored before layoffs become necessary. But if that doesn’t happen, we will make a concerted effort to connect them to available assistance and resources.”