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Changes minor for Lincoln Co. extension office

The Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Service Office opened alittle early Monday, although services will not quite be “businessas usual” for one staff member.

Under a Mississippi State Cooperative Extension Servicereorganization plan, former home economist Natasha Haynes is nowresponsible for 10 southwest Mississippi counties as a nutritionand food safety specialist.

“I’m actually excited about it, to be honest,” Haynes said ofthe change, adding that it will allow service to be morespecialized and allow her to answer more questions in her specialtyarea.

Other specialty areas, which have been assigned to otherextension service personnel, include health, child and familydevelopment, family resource management and leadershipdevelopment.

Haynes said she is responsible for her specialty area in thesouthern half of Area 3, one of four created in the state under thereorganization. Carmen Jeffcoat, who is based in Smith County, isresponsible for the top half of the area, she said.

Haynes said Lincoln County clients may still call the localoffice with questions, regardless of the specialty area. Thequestion will then be forwarded to the appropriate specialist whowill then contact the client.

“We don’t want our clients to have to call 90 different people,”Haynes said, adding that the reorganization is a chance for theservice to take advantage of improved technology. “They’ll stillget their question answered. I just may not be the person answeringit.”

Overall in the local office, some personnel title changes wereabout the only other differences under the reorganization plan,said Perry Brumfield. Brumfield’s title changed from county agentto county director with a focus on agriculture and forestry.

“Actually, we didn’t have very much change here,” Brumfieldsaid. “I’ll still be doing all the same work.”

Many other county agents across the state saw their dutiesexpand with their being responsible for their specialty area in 14or 15 counties. However, Brumfield, who has been in Lincoln Countysince 1991, said he had tenure and was named county director forthe local office.

The duties of other local office personnel were pretty muchunchanged as well, Brumfield said.

Amanda Walker is remaining at the county’s 4-H Youth Agent.Haynes said a statewide focus on youth activities was the reasonbehind not changing that area.

“We want to give a lot of attention to that in every county,”Haynes said.

State Dairy Specialist Wesley Farmer is based in the countyoffice and will still be responsible for the entire state,Brumfield said. Also, Brumfield anticipated no changes in theduties of Alcorn Cooperative Extension Service personnel ShrettaVarnado and Mike Byrne.

“Their program is basically going to remain the same,” Brumfieldsaid.

Brumfield said he has heard little reaction from the publicabout the reorganization. He said it was being done on a “trialbasis” and, in his opinion, would take about six months to work outany problems and get situated.

“A lot of this, we don’t know how it’s going to turn out,”Brumfield said. “If it doesn’t work out, they’ll make somechanges.”

Brumfield said serving the service’s clients remains the toppriority during and after the reorganization.

“Our major goal right now is to continue to serve our clients atthe highest level,” Brumfield said. “We’re hoping that we can dothat.”