January 8, 2014

Agency losing advocate to budget cuts

MALONE — Cornell Cooperative Extension has dissolved the job of its rural and agriculture-education specialist, which means Bernadette Logozar will be gone as of Jan. 31.

She was told Dec. 23, but the announcement was made Monday by Extension Director Rick LeVitre, who said it was a budgetary decision “that was not made lightly.”

He said it would have cost about $50,000 to keep her on the job this year.

Logozar’s departure leaves 17 full- and part-time employees at Cooperative Extension and means more regional sources will be tapped from neighboring counties’ extension offices to fill gaps, he said.

“And of course, we’ll have to pay for it,” the director said.


LeVitre will meet with the remaining staff next week to assess where they are and where they are going without the specialist position.

“Bernadette built up tremendous contacts and tremendous resources and accomplished a lot. I can’t take that away from her, nor would I want to,” LeVitre said. “But now, we just have to look at how we’re going to go forward.”

Logozar said she had been seeking contracts and applying for grant funding right along, knowing her position would remain only as long as outside money could be found.

“I’m sad, and I feel bad for the farmers that the position is being eliminated,” she said.

The job was created as a direct result of a 2001 needs survey conducted with farmers by the Franklin County Farmland Protection Board to help develop other types of farming operations beyond traditional dairy farms.

“This is what the farmers and the county wanted — to bolster alternative agriculture,” she said. “They saw the emerging signals” that the business of farming was changing rapidly.

For example, there was one farmers market in Franklin County when she started with the agency.

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