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Alcona receives good marks from MSU Extension

October 3, 2012
Andrew Westrope - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

HARRISVILLE - Representatives from MSU Extension gave the Alcona County Board of Commissioners an update on programs and services on Wednesday amidst ongoing negotiations for a memorandum of agreement, which board Chair Kevin Boyat wants settled within the next two weeks.

MSUE educator Bonnie Wichtner-Zoia first briefed the board on the county's "location quotient" standings compared to other counties in the state in seven resource-based industries, including advanced transportation manufacturing, advanced waste management, energy, environmental technology, fisheries and freshwater industries, food innovation, and forestry and wood products. According to data from the National Establishment Time Series database, Alcona County scored either "potential up and coming" or "mature, healthy" in all except fisheries and freshwater industries, where it scored "troubled."

Wichtner-Zoia then described the success of last year's MSUE Leadership program, which produced a "day for caring" and an extremely well-received arts retreat, and said the next full leadership program will not start until 2013.

"They broke even. It was successful for the first year, and the evaluations were excellent ... They did an awesome job," she said. "What they suggested, 'Don't do it so soon again. If we're going to do projects, do it later,' so that's why we're having three (smaller programs)."

This year's leadership program will consist of three smaller, separate forums rather than a single ongoing series, starting with a $5 seminar from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Nov. 27 about "how to get what you want" from negotiations. On March 19, MSUE will host "Energize Your Organizations" to help local agencies that are losing interest or membership, and on May 30, it will host a two-hour session on how agencies can connect with people in the county for projects and incentives.

MSUE and Alcona County Library also will partner for a ballot proposal forum, a live webinar on Oct. 22 at the library's Harrisville branch to provide short overviews of each state ballot proposal and answer questions online.

Finally, Wichtner-Zoia said MSUE would host a nine-session training program on conflict resolution for $30 per person starting Dec. 4.

MSUE District 4 Coordinator Kelley Hiemstra fielded questions from the board regarding its memorandum of agreement with MSUE, which the board has been unwilling to sign without knowing exactly what the county's recently-voted millage dollars were paying for. Hiemstra said MSUE pools all the money it collects from its constituent counties and divvies it up according to county population, so she could not break down exactly how Alcona County's tax dollars would be spent. The commissioners were unsatisfied with this and, hoping for at least a vague appraisal of salaries and travel expenses for the county's MSUE employees, arranged another meeting with Hiemstra to reach an agreement within the next two weeks.

In other business:

Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at awestrope@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693.

 
 

 

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