K-State Research and Extension in Dickinson and Marion counties will officially merge July 1, creating Chisholm Trail Extension District No. 20.

Jill Martinson, Dickinson County 4-H Youth Development Agent, told Dickinson County Commissioners Thursday that Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt had approved the operational agreement required to create the new extension district.

Extension staff and board members from both counties were hoping Schmidt’s office would approve the necessary paperwork prior to July 1. Otherwise, the new district would have had to wait until the summer of 2021.

With Chisholm Trail getting the green light, Dickinson County Commissioners on Thursday appointed four Dickinson County Extension Board Members to serve on the new board.

Local appointees and their term of office are: Don Hellwig and Paula Acheson, one year terms, expiring in 2010; and Rebecca Chase and Shawna Riffel, three year terms, expiring in 2023.

Martinson explained that Extension District elections are held during odd years, so two positions would expire in 2021 and two others will expire in 2023.

The four were appointed as interim board members just two weeks ago when it was unknown if the new Chisholm Trail district would get the AG’s approval before July 1.

In January, the Marion County Commission passed a resolution authorizing the exploration of districting with Dickinson County. After hearing pros and cons from concerned citizens, extension staff, board members and others, Dickinson County Commissioners voted on Feb. 27 to enter into an operational agreement with Marion County.

The idea of Dickinson County Extension becoming part of a district is not a new one.The idea first was proposed in the 1990s followed by more recent efforts, including one in 2011 that local county commissioners in office at the time did not act on.

“I think everybody is eager to get together and get things moving forward,” said Rebecca (Becky) Chase, Dickinson County Extension board chairperson. “Everybody is excited.”

Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson said it is fortunate the merger was able to move forward so quickly and that several “transitional” details still need to be handled and that County Administrator Brad Homman would serve as the commission’s contact person.

Transitional details include determining what will happen with the county-owned building and vehicles currently used by Dickinson County Extension.

“The partnerships we have are so important, especially on a program like this with Extension and the step forward we are making with the Chisholm Trail Extension District,” Peterson said.

 Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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