By Beth Stuever
OGEMAW COUNTY – The Ogemaw County board of commissioners voted March 22 to include a millage on the August 7, 2018 ballot that, if passed, will provide funding for the county’ partnership with Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. The millage would stay in effect through 2025.
MSU Extension provides educational resources to residents throughout Michigan through a three-way partnership with state, local and federal governments. County boards of commission traditionally provide the local funding to contribute to the partnership through their general fund. Every dollar invested locally garners $4 to $5 dollars of state and federal investments. That money goes right back into the county to make services available to residents.
The Ogemaw county board of commissioners decided to request a 0.1465 millage to offset the county’ traditional general-fund investment. If passed, the millage will cost the average Ogemaw County homeowner about $12.98 annually. This allows the county to collect about $124,000 each year, all of which the commissioners plan to invest back into Extension services.
‘The funds will be invested in programming such as 4-H, dairy production management, nutrition education, food safety, and community and economic development,’ explains Mischelle Warner, MSU Extension district 4 coordinator. Funds raised by the millage would also cover infrastructure, such as office space and utilities and part-time administrative assistance.
Patrick Cudney, MSU Extension associate director, says that MSU is committed to helping Ogemaw County work through this difficult economic period. He uses the university investment in 4-H as an example.
‘We’ve increased our investment in the county to ensure that they have access to a full-time 4-H program coordinator,’ he says. ‘Our typical memorandum of agreement (MOA) with counties supplies a half-time coordinator, and the county funds the other half of the position.
Since March 2017, MSU Extension has worked with a local group to fund both halves of the position, ensuring that the nearly 1,000 4-H’ers in the county and the volunteers that support them have all the resources they need to make the best better. Peggy Zettle continues to do an outstanding job of supporting that program.’
Zettle is the MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator in Ogemaw County. This youth development program teaches critical life skills and prepares young people for the workforce. Ogemaw County has 17 active clubs whose focus ranges from dairy and livestock production to archery, sewing, crafts and babysitting. MSU Extension helps train and manage the more than 40 adult volunteers that support the program.
Warner notes the six MSU Extension staff members in Ogemaw are also able to lean on more than 600 colleagues throughout the state. Notable programming over the last few years includes helping farmers manage financial risk and stress, nutrition and budgeting education for those eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a community and economic development program that focuses on tourism opportunities and leadership training for both youth and adults.
‘We take great pride in providing these opportunities to the residents of Ogemaw County,’ Warner says. ‘Our partnership here is important to us.’