The fund-raiser helps 4-H stay afloat.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Some well-known folks in Columbiana County are preparing to pucker up for a good cause.
At noon Sunday, one of them will kiss a pig.
Each day during the Columbiana County Fair, 4-H supporters have been collecting dollar bills on behalf of possible "victims" -- State Rep. Charles Blasdel; commissioners Dave Cranmer and Sean Logan; Judge C. Ashley Pike of common pleas court; Treasurer Linda Bolon; Auditor Nancy Milliken; Elmer Zimmerman, fair board chairman; Gary Williams, candidate for county commissioner; and Fred Naragon, a Salem attorney.
Joyce Larson of West Point, her husband, Byron, and son Aaron, have been staffing the Kiss a Pig table in the junior fair building.
On Friday, Logan was in the lead, she said. There were several dollar bills in his jar along with a 10-dollar bill.
Larson said her son is a 4-H alum and the family wanted to help raise money for its programs.
4-H, Future Farmers of America and county farm bureau members participate in fair events under the junior fair board, she said. The fair board is made up of members from each of those groups, but most participants are 4-H members, she said.
Collection will continue
Larson said she will continue to collect $1 votes until just before noon Sunday.
"Some people want to see certain people kiss the pig because they like them; others vote for people they don't like," she said.
Larson said that last year, Terri Hunter, fair manager, received the most votes. 4-H members choose a small pig from among those at the fair.
She said last year they covered the pig's snout with chocolate syrup, "just to make things more interesting."
The county extension service has faced cutbacks because of the county's financial crisis, but Larson and Julie Herron, 4-H program director, said commissioners are supportive of 4-H and provide as much funding as they can.
Logan said extension personnel asked for an annual operating budget of $150,000 this year and last, and commissioners gave $74,600.
Herron said the $74,600 is for all extension programs, and 4-H receives about half that amount.
"Funding is a real can of worms," Herron said. "It's good for the extension to have a lot of programs, but the more programs there are, the less money there is for 4-H."
She said Kiss a Pig has raised about $500 per year in the last four years, and a raffle generates about $3,000. Herron said although commissioners imposed the half-percent sales tax, the various county departments won't see the money right away.
"We're going to be playing catch-up for quite some time," she said. "Everyone is strapped for funds, but if it gets to where the extension can only fund one program, I know it will be 4-H.
"We want everyone to know we're still out here," she said. "We're still alive and kicking."