Melissa Correia participates in Washington State University Extension, Island County’s Cultivating Success class. Loren Imes, facilitator of the class, sits behind her. A new contract restructuring the university’s relationship with the county will allow the extension to increase its programming by 20 percent. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Melissa Correia participates in Washington State University Extension, Island County’s Cultivating Success class. Loren Imes, facilitator of the class, sits behind her. A new contract restructuring the university’s relationship with the county will allow the extension to increase its programming by 20 percent. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

New county contract brings added WSU programming

As of March 1, Washington State University Extension, Island County serves as an independent contractor with Island County instead of a department.

The change will allow Extension to increase programming by 20 percent, without increasing the cost to the county, according to Tim Lawrence, Island County director for WSU Extension.

“We did it primarily to increase programming, avoid confusion and avoid duplicity of administration,” Lawrence said.

Island County Commissioners signed the new contract at the Feb. 27 meeting.

“I’m excited about the academic focus,” said Commissioner Jill Johnson.

All of the commissioners voiced support for the change, which Lawrence said was a year in the making. With the original organizational structure, extension employees were a mix of county and university employees.

All the county employees will transition to WSU employees.

“It’s just streamlining,” Lawrence said. “Avoiding duplication of efforts and increasing the quality of the education.”

Lawrence said this will cut back administration costs because he no longer needs a separate accountant for Island County bookkeeping.

That position was already eliminated in anticipation of the restructure, and that money put toward the small farms and Master Gardner coordinators and the office assistant.

The office is now open five days a week instead of four, and the two coordinators’ hours were increased.

This change expands the classes offered at Extension, which can be teleconferenced in from any WSU campus.

These include programs such as cultivating success, which educates farmers about developing sustainable small farms. Extension is also working with the nursing school in Spokane to bring continuing education video courses via video to the island.

“That’s really what it’s all about, is access and opportunity,” he said.

The new contract is significantly more specific about goals Extension. It lists the number workshops to be held, outreach materials disbursed, number of students served by the 4-H program and other benchmarks, Lawrence said.

“WSU Extension has always been a great value in Island County,” said Commissioner Helen Price Johnson. “This clarifies your mission even more.”

“It will soon cease to be an undiscovered gem, I think,” she said.

“I think the future is very bright.”

More in Business

Rockin’ a Hard Place: Beth’s tasty 20-year road to success at bayleaf

I’m always intrigued by the fascinating, sometimes convoluted stories of how people… Continue reading

Dolls of historical figures are available at Purple Moon.
Whidbey offers unique gift ideas

Shoppers looking for gifts beyond the usual online and big-box options have… Continue reading

Restaurant owners see wharf location as a plus

If Damien and Tiffany Cortez could only say one thing about their… Continue reading

New Oak Harbor chamber director not content to ride others’ coattails

The former “poster child” for the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce is… Continue reading

Pet rehab: Dogs in ‘doggles,’ cats get post-surgery care

For dog and cat owners, seeing their loyal companions endure aches and… Continue reading

Marvelous marbling: New Coupeville business bringing added dimension to Front Street

A drop of blue spreads rapidly across the still water, growing and… Continue reading

New children’s clothing boutique opens in Coupeville

Rain Puddles Kids Boutique has a variety of items for ages up to 5

New take on thrift

‘Storage wars of Whidbey Island’ leads to unique store

Kingsview opens Coupeville office

Kingsview Asset Management recently opened the doors to its new office and… Continue reading

Local brewer taps into neighboring market

Big plans are a-brewing at one Coupeville-based business. Penn Cove Brewing Co.… Continue reading

After 30 years, Whidbey Coffee is strong as ever

Whidbey Coffee’s story began with chicken fajitas at a small community festival.… Continue reading

Oak Harbor’s new gyro hero: Former employee buys, transforms longtime Greek restaurant

Things are a bit different now for Jessie Abrahamson at the little… Continue reading