Quorum Court Approves Additional Funding For Washington County 4H Agent

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- In an 11 to 4 vote, the Washington County Quorum Court approved additional funding that would allow the county's 4H program to hire an agent.

5NEWS first reported that the quorum court voted to keep 4H funding the same in October, which would have left the program without enough funding for the additional staff member.

Monday night's (Nov. 14) vote came as the court finalized the 2017 budget for Washington County.

"[Monday night's] vote will allow us to go back to normalcy where we did have the full staff," said Berni Kurz, who's currently the staff chair of the county extension office. "We will start operating at normal and at a high level."

The agent is dedicated to working with and educating youth about topics that range from agriculture to STEM lessons, according to Kurz.

Justice of the Peace Eva Madison was one of the four who voted against the additional funding for the position. She expressed concern about how the government determines which programs to fund.

"Do all of us think this is really government's role to fund an extracurricular activity for our students?" asked Madison to the room. "Because, if that's where we start, I don't know where we stop."

David Moseley, a Washington County resident, with a daughter in 4H, was in the audience that packed the Quorum Court room. He spoke during a session of the meeting dedicated to public comments.

Moseley once worked as a 4H agent in Logan County, Arkansas. He said having the position is critical in educating the more than 500 children involved in the program.

"That's what their time, maybe even 100 percent of their time, will be appropriated to, the youth. To educating them," Moseley said.

Kurz said the vote was a relief. He added that he hopes getting an agent will only give people a better understanding of 4H and its mission.

"I think some JP's saw the full impact the program has and they came around and supported the program," Kurz said.

The addition funding will take effect January 1, 2017 and the position will be filled after that.