Essex County Cornell Cooperative Extension Director Anita Deming stands with Franklin County Cooperative Extension Director Rick LeVitre, who will be adding director duties in Essex County when Deming retires at the end of this year.
Photo by Lohr McKinstry
ELIZABETHTOWN – Longtime Essex County Cornell Cooperative Extension Director Anita Deming is retiring at the end of the year.
On Jan. 1, 2017, Rick LeVitre, the executive director of Cooperative Extension in Franklin County, will assume the role of Essex County director as well, serving 1.5 days a week in that post.
Meanwhile, the Cooperative Extension Board of Directors will search for a full-time agriculture educator.
Cooperative Extension Board President Jay White said splitting the duties held by Deming will save money and be more efficient.
“At the end of this year, we are losing a really great director here in Essex County,” he told the Essex County Board of Supervisors recently. “We are going to miss Anita.”
The county funds Cooperative Extension as a contract agency.
“We are going to reapportion our resources to better serve the people of Essex County,” White said. “We want to use those tax dollars to the benefit of the people of Essex County.
“We feel that that full-time (agriculture educator) position in Essex County is necessary. We feel the executive director duties can be pared down to about a 25 percent position.
“This is a good fit for us,” White said.
The Essex County Cooperative Extension Service will pay LeVitre 25 percent of his Franklin County salary.
“He (LeVitre) will be here on a weekly basis,” White said. “He will do some work for us at his office in Malone as well.”
LeVitre has been with the Franklin County extension unit for five years, and worked in Vermont and Massachusetts before that.
“At one time I managed four counties in extension,” LeVitre said. “I believe this is a great opportunity for both counties. There is a great need for shared services. There is duplication from one county to another in administration.”
He said the split in duties will allow them to focus dollars on programs, not administration.
“I believe extension still has a major role, even as extension has changed, as 4-H has changed,” LeVitre said. “I think this partnership is only going to be something that is workable, efficient and for the betterment of the area.”
Essex County Cooperative Extension could have the agriculture educator position filled in January or February 2017, if the search starts soon, he said.