L'ANSE - After 24 years serving the Michigan State University Extension offices, Baraga County Educator Mike Jensen is calling it quits.
Jensen, the former county extension director for Baraga County, is taking a job as a county extension director for the University of Florida.
"Regretfully, I want to let you know I'll be leaving the county as of the middle of January," Jensen told the Baraga County board of commissioners at its regular meeting Monday. "Of all the assignments I've had in Michigan, this has been my most enjoyable. It was a very difficult decision to make."
Jensen was one of many county directors that saw duties taken away as the MSU Extension office reorganized, making all county directors into educators.
"It was a good time for me to make a transition, and my skills will be put to use well in Florida."
Commissioner Paul Tesanovich was sad to hear about Jensen's departure.
"Your involvement not only as extension director, but in all areas was certainly appreciated," Tesanovich said. "We've had a pretty strong tradition in this county of working with our county director."
The future of that tradition is now in the air.
"I'm interested to hear where we're going with this," Tesanovich said. "MSU Extension has been pivotal to our area and I feel like we're taking a step back."
District 1 Coordinator Mike Erdman was on hand for the meeting, and said Jensen's duties will be split up between himself and several regional educators, including the educators in Houghton/Keweenaw, Gogebic and Dickinson counties.
"We're really sad to lose Mike, he's a really good employee who is respected by his colleagues," Erdman said. "We will continue to have coverage. We're all transitioning into our new jobs and trying not to get rid of anything."
Erdman said it's up to the board what kind of replacement the office will bring in. The new educator could focus on anything from agriculture to economic development to forestry.
"What I need to know from the board is what does the board want to see in an educator here in the county," Erdman asked.
In other business, the board:
showed support for the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region, which could have funding cut because of problems with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
heard from WUPPDR Regional Economic Development Coordinator Kevin Manninen, who said his job is to "do anything to coordinate bringing jobs to the county."
Manninen asked for one of the commissioners to volunteer to join a committee to help him.
approved the final payment, totaling $8,336, to Menze Construction for the courthouse improvement project.
discussed a private land issue with Fred Ojala, concluding with the commissioners agreeing to send someone out to Ojala's property to make sure the lines listed in the courthouse are correct.
Michael H. Babcock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.