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|AgCenter seeks additional funding|
Budget cuts handed down to higher education by the Legislature could have impact close to home if local governments can't come up with additional funding to maintain staff at the LSU AgCenter extension office.
Extension agent Carol Pinnell-Alison made an appearance at the regular meeting of the Franklin Parish Police Jury last week to ask for additional funds under a new, five-year cooperative endeavor agreement.
"The LSU AgCenter's Extension staff in Franklin Parish wants to continue to provide research based nonbiased information so the citizens of our parish can solve problems through knowledge," Pinnell-Alison said.
Pinnell-Alison reminded the jury agriculture and the various related businesses are the largest industry in the region.
"When you're talking about economic development in Franklin Parish, agriculture is it," Pinnell-Alison told the jury.
Franklin Parish is not alone in the request.
Some 64 extension offices throughout Louisiana have approached the police juries in their home parishes to request funding increases.
Pinnell-Alison asked the jury to consider the new agreement, which will include a 9 percent increase in the jury's contribution to extension office funding.
Currently, the police jury contributes 11 percent of the salary for the agents in the extension office. That's about $22,000 a year.
If the police jury agrees to the new agreement, that figure would climb to 20 percent, or some $39,000 a year according to Pinnell-Alison.
Juror Ray Young encouraged adoption of the new agreement, which he said will ensure further research personnel, services and information for Franklin Parish residents.
"We're asked to support a portion of the pay that goes to three people," Young said. "We're getting a whole lot of bang for the buck that we spend."
"The extension service has traditionally offered educational outreach to the citizens of Franklin Parish," she said. "What we try to offer are the tools for people to help themselves, either through agri-business, or family and youth development."
When asked what would happen if the police jury did not agree to the increase, Pinnell-Alison could not say.
Instead, she pointed to previous budget cuts as the reason the extension office has seen a decrease in personnel.
Currently, four people work at the extension office. In previous years, as many as six have staffed the office.
Pinnell-Alison stressed the value of the extension center to everyone, not just farmers.
She equated the services provided by the extension office with "bringing the university to the people."
"It's about providing them information to help in their daily lives," Pinnell-Alison said.
The police jury has taken the request under advisement and will examine the matter at its next meeting.