Extension will burn mortgage at fair

Posted 11 July 2013 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Orleans County Legislators David Callard, left, and Ken Rush, right, stand outside the Dwight “Buzz” Hill Education Center at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Knowlesville with CCE Interim Director Paul Lehman.

Press release
CCE of Orleans County

KNOWLESVILLE – Residents, business owners and public officials in Orleans County will be happy to know that their generous donations and volunteer help have paid off with the completion of the mortgage payments for the “Buzz” Hill Education Center at the 4-H fairgrounds.

The Extension will burn the mortgage during a 5:45 p.m. presentation on opening day at the 4-H Fair on July 22.  An event for donors is being planned for September.

“We decided to try to burn the mortgage at the 4-H Fair,” said Ed Neal, chairman of the Extension Board of Directors. “A final push in May brought dozens of checks from this generous community.”

Much the same as a homeowner celebrates the retirement of a home mortgage after years of sacrifice, residents can feel as though they have a piece of ownership in what Extension officials say is one of the finest education centers in the state.

The effort to build an improved facility to replace the older center on Main Street in Albion began in 2000 when the Extension Board of Directors established a goal of creating a permanent facility at the fairgrounds. Originally scheduled to be paid off in 2014, at least $2,000 in interest is expected to be saved with this final push.

While many area residents see the facility at the fairgrounds and know about the 4-H organization, they may not realize that this center of non-formal education is much more than a youth organization and a fair.

One hundred years ago, Cooperative Extension had its founding in Broome County, New York.  Then known as Farm Bureau, the organization, early on was totally focused on rural farm improvement. The addition of “home economics” sought to improve domestic life.

In January 1917, Orleans County came on board with the establishment of the first Farm Bureau Office in the Waterman Building in Albion. Nine months later, the “Home Economics Commission” was established to serve homemakers. 4-H Clubs of Orleans County officially were organized in 1938.

Today, agricultural educational needs are much more sophisticated. Orleans shares with other counties a portion of budgets for specialists in tree fruit, vegetables, dairy, livestock and field crops. Two of 19 specialists that Orleans has access to are housed in the Orleans office.

While the organization has experienced some turnover in local staff, the organization is recruiting a full-time program director who will also be a youth issues leader.

“We have serious budgetary constraints from narrowing federal and state dollars and know we must pull ourselves up with our own bootstraps by generating grant income and business income from use of the grounds,” said Interim Director Paul Lehman. “We appreciate the considerable support from the County Legislature.”

The word “cooperative” in Cooperative Extension means cooperation between federal, state and local governments and by memorandum of agreement to, as the organization’s mission states: put knowledge to work in pursuit of economic vitality, ecological sustainability and social well-being. It brings local experience and research based solutions together, helping New York State families and communities thrive in our rapidly changing world.

The board of directors of Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension hopes that the organization will continue to serve residents for another 100 years.