Stokes County to get livestock agent
by Meghann Evans
Stokes County has been without a livestock agent for a few years, but that should soon change.
On Monday the Stokes County Board of Commissioners gave the Stokes Cooperative Extension office the go-ahead to begin the advertisement and interview process for a livestock agent. The agent’s time will be split 50-50 between Forsyth and Stokes counties but will be housed in the Stokes office.
The livestock agent will work with area cattlemen and sheep and goat producers. County Manager Rick Morris said, “It is something we have a real need for.”
The county and cooperative extension service have gotten creative to find funding for the position, Morris explained. While the state will pay 50 percent of the salary, Forsyth and Stokes have to split the other half. Stokes plans to save more than $4,000 by sharing a crops agent with Davie County in addition to Forsyth. The county already had some money budgeted this year for hiring a livestock agent.
“I think this is a pretty creative solution,” Morris remarked.
With limited funds, Stokes Cooperative Extension Director Debbie Cox said they have to brainstorm, “How can we do more with less?”
Commissioner James Booth asked if the field crops agent would be stretched too thin now with time split between three counties, and Cox said she did not think so. She said the agent manages his time well and is aware of the future change.
Commissioner Ronda Jones said though funds are tight, she understands the need for a livestock agent, because the cooperative extension service covers a broad scope of services and a crop person is not necessarily a livestock person.
The board gave approval to the agent position. The hiring process could be lengthy since it has to go through the state Cooperative Extension Service based out of N.C. State University.
Road paving projects
Also during the meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution stating their concurrence with the secondary road construction program planned by the N.C. Department of Transportation. A public hearing was held for the secondary road construction program on Jan. 14, but no one signed up to speak. NCDOT District Engineer John Rhyne went over the 2012-13 fiscal year allocation and plans with the commissioners.
The state highway department has completed a study of all state maintained unpaved secondary roads to determine the number of miles unpaved in the state. As a result of the study, it was anticipated that Stokes County would be allocated $750,717.05 by the General Assembly for secondary road improvements this year.
With those dollars, the programmed paving goal is 0.31 miles. That paving will be done on Big Oak Road. Rhyne noted that this is significantly less than in the past due to House Bill 950 last July. Allocations for paving secondary roads are now based on a statewide prioritization instead of prioritization within each county. Stokes County did not have any roads at the top of that statewide list. Big Oak was allowed because it was presented years ago but NCDOT just now has received the right of way. The upside, Rhyne said, is that the allocation change was just for 2013 and will go back to the old prioritization plan next year unless there are additional changes.
General secondary road improvements will include widening and reshaping 0.8 miles of Meadowbrook Road, strengthening the pavement on four miles of Slate Road, widening four miles of Tuttle Road, and widening and reshaping 2.8 miles of Pleasant View Church Road. No unpaved road spot improvements have been planned.
Commissioner Jimmy Walker said one of the county’s priorities has been widening or improving a section of Highway 8. He asked when Rhyne foresaw that project coming up. Rhyne said it is number 3801 in the program list, but it has made it to the scoping level. With scoping, NCDOT employees get together and talk about a project. The estimated date is 2030, he said. While that may not be the greatest news, at least it is on the calendar, said Rhyne.
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