OSU Extension Service district will be on May ballot

A service district intended to fund Oregon State University's Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center will go before Jackson County voters in May.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved referring the Jackson County 4-H, Master Gardener and Agricultural Extension Service District to the May ballot at its Wednesday public meeting.

If passed, a tax of 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value will be levied on Jackson County households. That's $7.71 a year for a home assessed at $154,210, the average in Jackson County.

The annual $831,000 raised by the service district would go toward bolstering programs, funding new programs, travel and training, maintenance and other services. The Board of Commissioners would serve as the governing body.

Proponents of the district packed the Jackson County Courthouse during a final public hearing on the measure to show their support for getting the funding mechanism.

"With your support, I hope to be involved in 4-H with my grandchildren," said 10-year-old Makena Clevenger, who has been involved with the Extension Service youth program for two years. "It is a program worth saving."

Bill Collins of Gold Hill talked about his 190 acres he purchased 40 years ago, and how the Extension helped give him advice that got the land back in shape.

"It had been heavily logged and poorly cared for," Collins told the board. "We went to the Extension for help. We now have a beautiful forest and a sustainable forest."

Jackson County and the Extension have had a partnership for about 100 years. The county has provided about 10 percent of its annual budget, with the remainder coming from private, state and federal funds. Jackson County officials have said they cannot provide any more money to the Extension because of a downturn in federal funding.

Read more in Thursday's Mail Tribune.

— Ryan Pfeil

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