County to hire full-time 4-H leader

BLUE EARTH – Faribault County commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to hire a full-time 4-H coordinator.

Donna Leff, the part-time coordinator for five years, has resigned to take a position with Farm Service Agency in Iowa, said LuAnn Hiniker, regional director for the University of Minnesota Extension.

Michell Klinkner was hired for 30 hours per week through the county fair in answer to concerns raised by families of 4-H’ers.

The 4-H coordinator position is funded by the county, with the University of Minnesota providing the curriculum and training. Extension assumes all costs for rehiring.

Hiniker asked commissioners to consider making the position full-time because the coordinator often works full-time hours, especially with after-school programs and during fair week.

“We feel retention and recruitment will be better with a full-time position,” she said.

The county has struggled to keep the part-time position filled, acknowledged Commissioner Tom Warmka.

“They’re always looking over their shoulder for another job,” he said.

The increase in pay from part-time to full-time will be about $17,000, noted Commissioner Tom Loveall.

Commissioner Bill Groskreutz asked why the county is financially supporting 4-H when it doesn’t fund any other youth group.

“4-H is the best youth development organization in the world,” Hiniker said.

Children in 4-H are more involved in school and community, improving their grades and taking part in other organizations that benefit their communities, she said.

Voting to post the position as full-time were Warmka and Greg Young. Voting no were Groskreutz and John Roper. Loveall broke the tie with a yes vote.

In old business, County Engineer John McDonald informed the commission that Blue Earth has approved a request for a variance on the Main Street construction project. The resolution to keep diagonal parking between Fifth and Seventh streets was approved by commissioners.

Michele Hard, owner of Michele’s Sewing, presented commissioners with a petition signed by more than a thousand people who want to save angled parking.

“We feel that losing that parking is a big detriment to our businesses,” she said of the 34 businesses on those blocks. “We don’t have enough parking at times as it is.”

To widen the streets, the shop owners would lose sidewalk space and their awnings.

“We think that’s a small price to pay,” Hard said.

In other business, the board hired Brittney Gehrking as a part-time deputy. She is currently working full-time for Winnebago as a police officer.