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Watson urges residents to demand more services

Rick Smith was introduced as the new McDuffie County extension agent at the March 2 County Commission meeting, and outgoing agent Frank Watson had a few parting words.

Watson said he realized many people are disappointed over the services that have been cut from the extension program in recent years because of budget constraints. The answer, he said, was not just to complain, but to complain to the right people.

"I know right now everybody's hollering," he said. "If you just roll over and forget about it, nothing will ever change."

Making formal complaints to state politicians in regard to funding cuts is a way McDuffie County residents could start that change, Watson said. State Sen. Bill Jackson and state Rep. Helen "Sistie" Hudson help make decisions about state funding, and Watson suggested that concerned residents contact them.

Because of funding and personnel cuts, Smith will handle not only the agriculture extension program but also will be involved in the McDuffie County 4-H program. Plans are in order, Watson said, to hire a part-time program assistant to assist Smith in the 4-H program.

Smith confirmed Friday that the part-time position will be filled about April 4.

Watson, who has served McDuffie County for about 15 years since moving from Wilkes County, is retiring. He will be available to the extension office on a limited basis during the transition.

Smith has served in Wilkes County since 2005. He previously worked in research for the extension service.

Smith earned his bachelor of science degree in forestry resources from the University of Georgia in 1998, majoring in timber management and wildlife management. He also served in the Army, with the 82nd Airborne Division and with the 2nd Infantry Division, in Korea. He also served in the Georgia National Guard, for a total of 11 years of military service.

Web posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011

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