By JOHN BORGOLINI
Fulton County Express

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors are looking to provide more funding to the local Cornell Cooperative Extension following its Oct. 13 meeting.
The board passed a motion, made by Gloversville Ward 6 Supervisor Warren Greene at the meeting, to have the finance committee review supplying the cooperative with $20,000 annually through 2018. The cooperative operates the county’s 4-H club.
Following the public comment session where three local residents spoke in favor of funding the cooperative, Chairman Ralph Ottuso said all the members of the board were completely behind funding it. However, the finance committee needs to review this option as its members have just started putting the 2016 budget together.
“I was a member of the 4-H club. I realize how important 4-H is,” Ottuso said. “We’re definitely looking into things to get money back into 4-H, because it is a great, great program. I went through it. I was in it six years myself – It does make a difference, and I think you guys do a great job.”
Fulton County Sheriff hopeful Darren Smith, who also serves as a 4-H volunteer, was one of the people to speak on behalf of funding the local organization.
“The 4-H program is great. It’s youth development folks,” he said. “If any of you have ever attend a 4-H event, you will see the dedication that these young men and women bring to that program. We started our 4-H youth students program this year to help get kids away from computers, internet, video games – get them back out into the woods, the forests, the fields. And that’s what Fulton County is. This is a rural, wooded, agricultural [county], and I urge you folks to please vote yes to funding the 4-H project and program.”
Currently the county has a contract through 2016 with the Cornell Cooperative Extension, but the contract includes no funding for the upcoming year.
Gloversville Ward 2 Supervisor Frank Lauria echoed the importance of this program for the county’s youth.
“We’re keeping these kids off the streets. We’re giving them an education,” he said. “I believe a valuable education is more important to the youth in this county today. And we should keep this education as free as possible, without any cost.”
The motion wasn’t met without concern, however, as Gloversville Ward 1 Supervisor Marie Born and Johnstown Ward 3 Supervisor Jack Callery asked the board to make sure the finance committee had time to review this funding option.
Born said that she does believe that the coop’s 4-H program has done a “wonderful job,” but she reminded the board members that they have cut other agencies out of the county budget and said they would not fund outside agencies.
Callery, who is the head of the finance committee just wanted the board to let the committee do it’s job before it decided whether the cooperative would be funded for the next three years.