MONTESANO, Wash. - It was standing room only as over 150 showed their support of the 4-H program to the Grays Harbor County Commissioners yesterday during a special extended session in Montesano.
With no real negative comments, some spoke of personal experiences; 10 year old Elma resident Christopher VanKlaven explained that his Busy Beavers 4-h club has helped him with his Autism "I'm doing well in school, since 4-h. If 4-h wasn't here, I'd have nothing to do"
County Commissioner Mike Wilson explained, prior to the meeting, that the commissioners have made no decisions about the extension "we are talking about everything that we can to save money for the county."
The requested funding for the year 2010 is $168,000, County Director for the WSU Extension Program Steve Harbel said that in order for it to exist the county has to contribute some amount of funds.
Some had asked during the meeting if fund raising efforts, or user-fees, could fill the gap; Harbel explained "We could certainly use additional funds through that process, but Extension does require that the county provide some sort of a foundation support for us, if you ever dealt with grant funding and other sources of funding, you need a foundation - we've had that foundation for 92 years."
Harbel was among the many to point out that the county also benefits indirectly from the program "I think you see tonight that there are a lot of dedicated people here that are spending their time, and in fact their money, to make this county a better place to live."
4-H is a portion of the WSU Extension Program, the local 4-H includes over 2,500 Grays Harbor youth.
The County is trying to find 5 million dollars to make their budget work, and is reviewing all expenses.
Commissioner Al Carter said the supporters were preaching to the choir "we love this group - it's absolutely worth every bit and every penny we do, they're great volunteers, they're huge supporters of what we're doing, these are tough times."
Carter said that other departments have come around, and in most cases are trying to come closer to the 10% cuts the county requested earlier this year.