OSU Extension Director and Associate Vice President Kevin Smith speaks to the Van Wert Rotary Club Tuesday. Smith was one of two officials from the OSU extension to speak to the club. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
OSU Extension Director and Associate Vice President Kevin Smith speaks to the Van Wert Rotary Club Tuesday. Smith was one of two officials from the OSU extension to speak to the club. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)

VAN WERT — Two executives with Ohio State University Extension came to Van Wert on Tuesday to address the Van Wert Rotary Club. Van Wert County is in a partnership with OSU Extension for agriculture, family, and 4-H education and with the City of Van Wert in community development. The community development agreement has been the source of controversy between the city and the Van Wert County Commissioners.

That controversy was not the subject of remarks by OSU Extension Community Development Assistant Director Greg Davis who instead talked about the role of community development efforts within extension.

Davis did note after the meeting, “I think extension has a lot to offer. I think where we can do better is figuring out how to cooperate, and I’m not sure that conversation has taken place yet about how we can better work together.”

The current deal between OSU Extension and the city is a first for Davis. “When I think back on how we’ve partnered in the past, this is probably the first time we’ve partnered at a city level on a position. We do a lot of one-time projects in cities where we don’t have a full-time person,” he offered.



In his remarks, Davis addressed four areas of the community development: leadership development, organization development, planning, and economic development.

Also speaking Tuesday was OSU Extension Director and Associate Vice President Kevin Smith. Smith gave a brief history of the OSU Extension program which celebrates its 100th year in 2014.

According to Smith, there are six or seven counties in the state currently in agreements with Extension with full-time personnel. Nearly half of Ohio counties have entered and left agreements in the past several years, with a few leaving and then returning a number of years later.

A question and answer period mostly included thanks expressed by audience members for past help from OSU Extension, including the effort which led to the city getting a $5 million grant for infrastructure at the Van Wert Supersite.

Davis gave examples of success stories from Crawford County and Fayette County. In each case major development projects were completed through the partnership of OSU Extension and local officials. In fact, the theme of partnership ran throughout both men’s remarks, and Davis expressed his hope for the partnership with Van Wert to bring benefits.