Mason County has signed a new deal with the Michigan State University Extension service. The county commission rejected the agreement last month, but unanimously approved it today.
Mason County expects to pay about $10,000 more to keep the extension service open, but because of state budget cuts the program is cutting staff around the Michigan.
"All of our programs are going to be delivered with fewer people," says Tom Coon, the director of Michigan State University Extension. "Our goal is to provide equal if not better quality of service with fewer people by using technology and by having this approach of having more specialized educators serving broader geographic regions than they have in the past."
MSU Extension is known for helping farmers and gardeners and coordinating 4-H programs for kids. In Mason County the 4-H position will be reduced to a half-time job. Also, a PhD scientist with an expertise in fruit trees will not be replaced. Instead that job will be held by someone with more general expertise. And extension offices will need to share staff more widely across the region.