Commission’s decision to move Extension Service is a blow to Scottville.

February 14, 2017

Commission’s decision to move Extension Service is a blow to Scottville.

Editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Today’s decision by the Mason County Board of Commissioners to allow the Michigan State University Extension Service to move out of downtown Scottville to West Shore Community College was a blow to Scottville and a conversation that should have had much more public input.

Just five years ago the exact same conversation was held between the commissions, officials from MSU and the Michigan 4-H program, and local citizens on the same topic — moving the extension out of Scottville to WSCC. At that time, those interested parties agreed to keep the service in Scottville. The office was moved from its previous location across the street, a location that seems to have served the extension just fine, with no public complaints, until the decision to move the office seemed to get rushed through committee and then placed on the commission’s agenda, today, with little input from those who actually are vested in the service.

Why weren’t there meetings this time?

Scottville City Manager, Amy Williams, received a courtesy call from MSU Extension District Coordinator Michael Krauch Monday, one day before the commission’s decision. “I’m not sure that we could have convinced them to stay but we would of definitely had a conversation to see if there was anything we could do to help them with staying in the city,” Williams told MCP. To date, MSU has not informed the owners of the building, Mitch and Toni Bogner, of its intentions of not renewing its lease. 

Scottville, the traditional agricultural center of Mason County, has served as home of the MSU Extension since the days when Harold Larsen and Dean Raven served as extension officers in the 1950s, perhaps even longer.

The official word from Krauch, according to correspondence with the Commission, is that the college provides more amenities, such as classrooms and more parking for bigger events. It offers a catering service too. An email from WSCC’s Vice President of Administrative Service Scott Ward even states that the use of classrooms and other WSCC facilities are open to MSU, and many other civic groups, any way.

Only two commissioners, Lewis Squires and Steven Hull, voted against the move. Squires operates a business just outside of Scottville and has been a strong advocate for the town. Hull represents Scottville on the Commission. The decision by the other commissions to turn their back on Scottville was disappointing and seems counterproductive to their duties of creating a viable and strong countywide economy.

If you agree that this decision was made in haste, and should have had more public input, we urge you, citizens, to contact your county commissioner and let him or her know your opinion about this decision. Also, contact Michigan State University Extension Services as well.

District 1: Wally Taranko, 231-843-8418

District 2: Bill Carpenter: 231-510-4147

District 3: Charles Lange (chairman): 231-843-2445

District 4: Lewis Squires: 231-757-3356

District 5: Steven Hull: 231-794-7756

District 6: Janet Andersen: 231-843-3010

District 7: Thomas Posma: 231-757-2786

MSU Extension: 517-355-2308