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Rehberg makes case for Extension reorganization

A reorganization of the University of Georgia Extension staff in the Grady County office received the unanimous support of the county commission Tuesday night.
County Extension Coordinator and 4-H agent Deron Rehberg presented a plan to reclassify positions within the current staff in order to upgrade the current 4-H associate position to a full-fledged Extension Agent position.
“This will not get me out of work. When all is said and done this will probably add to my work load,” Rehberg told commissioners.
According to the county extension coordinator, his district director offered the local office the opportunity to upgrade the 4-H associate position.
Under the proposed plan, Rehberg would share 4-H duties with the new agent and would assume some ag duties to relieve Ag Agent Brian Hayes.
“During the planting season and the harvesting season homeowners take a back seat to farmers. Under this plan I would be freed up to answer some of the calls and better serve our clientele,” Rehberg said.
Southwest District Extension Director Dr. Laura Perry Johnson has also indicated to Rehberg the possibility in the next couple of years of adding a second ag agent to the Grady County staff.
However, with that opportunity the county would be required to finance approximately $25,000 plus benefits for the second ag agent.
Rehberg noted that the county’s annual cost to upgrade the 4-H associate position would only be $6,040 more.
“When I started with Extension 26 years ago we had two ag agents in Grady County. Today I don’t know if you could justify having two full-time ag agents. I see this opportunity as a better bang for the buck,” Rehberg told commissioners.
4-H associate Lisa Starling has expressed interest in the new position, according to Rehberg, but she will have to apply and compete for the position.
“We have a great staff and I certainly want to do whatever possible to keep it together,” Rehberg said.
The new 4-H agent would be responsible for coordinating day-to-day 4-H programming, non-livestock judging programs, project achievement, summer camp, and other summer fun programs. It would also be this person’s job to recruit and train volunteers.
Rehberg would continue to serve as the county extension coordinator as well as coordinate the 4-H livestock and shooting sports programs. In addition to 4-H, he would answer day-to-day homeowner calls and pond calls.
“I do know if we don’t show support for kids, this county will suffer for it in the long run,” Commissioner Elwyn Childs said.
Rehberg says it is unlikely the new 4-H agent could begin work until early January so there is no impact to the county’s 2014 operating budget.
According to Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar there is money in the 2015 spending plan that could be reallocated to cover the additional $6,040 to fund the new position.

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