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Research station funding may increase

7:19 AM, Sep. 21, 2013  |  Comments
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Door County's contribution would nearly triple for the Peninsular Agricultural Research Station (PARS) under a proposal approved Tuesday by a County Board committee.

The last time the county's increased its allocation to PARS - to $6,000 annually - was 26 years ago, Supervisor Cletus Fontaine told the board's Administrative Committee. Fontaine serves as Door County Representative to a regional committee concerned with agriculture issues.

Door County and, to a lesser extent, Kewaunee County fund the maintenance of the agriculture center's weather monitoring stations that provide information to farmers in the two counties. Five are in Door County, with one in Kewaunee County.

In addition to providing weather data, the station also provides other information related to growing crops for farmers and other growers.

At the time it was approved in 1988, Door County's $6,000 payment, plus a smaller contribution from Kewaunee County, equaled 30 percent of the salary and benefits of a full-time position in the University of Wisconsin-Extension system, which operates PARS. Today, the cost is $25,000 for the same number of hours, Dean Volenberg, Door County UW-Extension agricultural educator and department head, told the committee.

As state-mandated levy limits and declining equalized property values in Door County force the county to hold the line on spending for 2014, Supervisor Ken Fisher said the services the station provides are "worthwhile enough to find $11,000."

Supervisor John Neinas agreed, but cautioned "Kewaunee County has to be with it."

The Administrative Committee voted to approve a Door County allocation of $17,500 for the facility, provided Kewaunee County funds $7,500.

The Peninsular station is one of 11 operated by UW throughout Wisconsin. There was the possibility two or three years ago, that the university would close the Door County facility as a cost-saving.

However, because of the information the station provides particularly for the county's apple and cherry growers, it was kept open.

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