Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, June 5 2013 at 4:45 PM, Updated: Wed, June 5 2013 at 4:57 PM
The future of the O.S.U. extension office in Klamath Falls is in jeopardy...and taxpayers may be asked to help provide a financial lifeline.
Center Director Willie Riggs believes the O.S.U. Extension Office plays an important role in Klamath County...
"We're part of the DNA. We're part of why Klamath County's here today, in my opinion. We're tied to agriculture, we're tied to food products."
The extension service got about 280 thousand dollars in funding from Klamath County last year.
But Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams says that funding might not be there next year...
"We don't know, to be honest with you."
Riggs adds: "We could be a year from closing down."
Riggs notes that only a portion of the extension service's 1.8 million dollar budget comes from the county...but that money helps to leverage more dollars.
"For every dollar's worth of county money I get, I also receive another six dollars and thirty-eight cents from the state, the federal government, from private industries."
Riggs met with the Klamath County Commissioners this morning to talk about putting a funding measure on the ballot...
"Either a service district, with a permanent tax levy, or an operation levy for like a three or five year period."
The commissioners say they'll back the proposal - but only if citizens gather enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot.
The two O.S.U. extension offices in Klamath Falls will soon be consolidating to save more money. The Vandenberg Road office will soon be moving four miles across town to the Research Center on Washburn Way.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.