By DENISE GRANT - It looks like family and consumer sciences will be back on the menu at the Hancock County Extension Office in 2014.

By DENISE GRANT - It looks like family and consumer sciences will be back on the menu at the Hancock County Extension Office in 2014.

Director Cassie Turner said the United Way of Hancock County has agreed to grant $30,000 to the office, enough to pay for a part-time educator.

For another $20,000, Turner said, the extension office could hire a full-time educator for family and consumer sciences, at least for 2014. She asked the Hancock County commissioners to contribute $10,000 to move the position to full-time. She said the extension office would "find" the other $10,000.

Turner reviewed the numbers during a budget hearing with the commissioners on Thursday.

While there were no guarantees, Commissioner Phillip Riegle said it is something to consider. The commissioners praised Turner for her work on the budget and at the extension office.

"It's pretty exciting," she said. "... We're keeping busy and making good things happen."

She said a family and consumer science educator is important to Hancock County.

Turner, who also serves as a 4-H youth development educator, was named as director of the office in September.

Designed to extend university-level knowledge to communities throughout Ohio, extension offices work to meet local needs, while also addressing state, national and global issues.

Programming focuses on family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, community development, and agriculture and natural resources, with the goal of providing practical advice and solutions.

The office reaches thousands of children and adults each year.

The county contributed $230,000 toward the operation of the extension office this year. In April, the office asked for more money to help overcome a projected $35,000 deficit. The commissioners, citing problems with the county's budget, said no.

The extension has been operating without a family and consumer sciences educator since the resignation of longtime educator Barbara Brahm in July. Brahm took a position as family and consumer sciences educator in Delaware and Union counties, to be closer to her family. She held the same position here for 25 years. She also served as office director.

When Brahm left, the extension office anticipated eliminating parenting classes, a "Dining with Diabetes" program, and school nutrition programs. Health fairs, nursing home visits, and courses in time management, self-management and budgeting were also on the chopping block, along with cooking classes and classes in food preservation, like canning, freezing and drying.

Her departure, along with other cutbacks, helped the extension office finish the year in the black, but just barely. According to Turner, the extension office will have a balance of about $567 by year's end.

Turner said the 2014 budget has been reduced to $226,550, a 1.5 percent decrease from this year's budget of $230,000, as requested by the commissioners. The commissioners have asked all county departments to reduce their 2014 budgets by the same amount.

The extension office has cut the budget by eliminating programs, mailings and travel, relying on volunteers and asking workers to assume more responsibility.

Grant: 419-427-8412

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