Commissioners hear pleas to keep 4-H coordinator position

CLARKSTON, WA - Citizens voiced their many concerns Monday morning at the Asotin County Commissioners meeting concerning last week's presentation of the tentative budget plan for 2013.

Impassioned pleas from long time community members, veterans of the 4-H program and current 4-H members and leaders of Asotin County were heard Monday morning by county commissioners. The 2013 preliminary budget eliminates the 4-H Coordinator Position, reducing the budget by $36,000. A cost that citizens said would decimate the program.

"This 4-H program is critical and this nation needs the 4-H program to grow so that our kids learn good ethics and morals, it's just incredibly important," said 4-H leader Polly Knutson. "It's not a small thing, it's a small amount of money, but it's not a small thing to cut."

"The amount that the county actually allocates toward that coordinator position is nothing compared to what the parents, what the leaders and what the volunteers put into these children and all of their projects," said concerned citizen Tammy Long.

The program currently consists of 35 4-H clubs and more than 325 members and 85 trained volunteers. According to WSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program officials, no funding would mean the county's 4-H program would slowly phase out and as of June 1st of 2013. Members would not be re-enrolled and volunteer leaders would not be accepted into the program. Citizens said this cut is a step in the wrong direction for Asotin County and its youth.

"We're not a big city, we're a county," said 4-H supporter Derwood Jones. "We're a country and these kids need this program to continue."

"It has taught me so many life skills and I'm just one of many people who are involved in 4-H," said 4-H member Alison Todderud. "There are so many kids that I've met over the years that say this has just changed their lives completely."

"When you invest in a young person, you are literally investing in your future and it makes dollars and cents for Asotin County," said Pat Boyes.

Asotin County Commissioners will announce their decision at their next meeting scheduled for December 17th.