2020 August PCEA-EC Minutes

August 17, 2020

Attending: Beth McAvoy. Steve Degoosh, Gretchen Huettner, Donna Coffin, Trisha Smith, Ben Cookson, Anette Moulton, Sheila Norman

Treasurer’s Report: Expenses were reviewed.  July’s balance was $34,936. We expect to have $33,400 to operate next year. We are in good shape at this time. See Donna’s full written report.

Secretary’s report:
No one who attended last month’s meeting was available to accept the report, so the vote was tabled.

The office is open to the public. We have ordered a fan to exhaust air in the meeting room. Donna measured the meeting room. There is space for 9 people with social distancing. We can hold our September meeting there if we choose to. ZOOM will continue to be an option for those who prefer to meet that way.

4-H report:
The virtual summer learning series started on June 19. PSQ County 4-H members Gabrielle and Susannah offered a workshop on how to make goat milk soap. PSQ County volunteer Rebecca Huettner will lead a two-part workshop on public speaking tomorrow and Wednesday.

Mr. Robert Betjemann is offering a workshop on making box kites. Twelve kits are being prepared to pass out to interested youth to build at home with adult assistance needed for younger kids. The kits have reusable pieces that must be returned so another group can make kites. Instructions for assembling the kites will available by video or in writing. This is a partnership with Helping Hands with Heart. HHH will provide materials and pay for the videography for the instructions.

Plans for holding 4-H meetings in person once again are underway. Re-opening plans have been submitted and we are awaiting approval. We expect to have receive guidance about in-person 4-H meetings on Wednesday.

Sheila has reached out to the Brownville school to discuss our afterschool program but has not heard back. We will reach out again when things settle down in the fall.

All 4-H members are invited to take part in a dog photo contest. There are 5 categories to enter in each of 3 age groups (Cloverbud, Junior, and Senior) Photos will be sent by email and judged. The top photos in each category and age group will be sent on to the Northeast Region Contest where they will be judged against the top entries from several other states including NH, CT, NJ, PA, and MD as well as others. The photos will be displayed in the ArtSteps program that is working so well for the Exhibit Hall entries.

Home Horticulture Report:
Fifteen people have participated in the Garden in a Box program. There will be changes next year, based on what has been learned this year.

The Home Horticulture team has been doing Victory Garden virtual videos. Those without internet connection have been rather left behind so a low-tech version is needed. Donna and Trisha will make their own DVDs if there are no state-wide versions available. The DVDs would be available through local libraries.

The Share Shed has been getting good traffic. Anette and Merilee have been taking pictures.

The school garden has beautiful garlic. The corn looks great, it is a heritage red variety, but there are no red ears. There was one poorly shaped cucumber.

The Food Cupboard is being utilized. Sometimes there is traffic back up. There is discussion about coordinating the holiday giving with other agencies better.

The Piscataquis Passport has been on hiatus, Trisha thinks some of the kids will like to make the box kites.

One Tomato survey will be coming up.

Trisha went to the Nature Trail. It looks good. There are picnic tables under the shelter and someone is making log benches. There is a story walk in cooperation with the library. Carolyn Clark plans to use the trail when school starts. The trail has been worked on, so it is higher and less muddy.

See written report for state-wide activities.

People are choosing to come to the office for face-to-face consultation about plants and insects. Donna saw three people just today.

Donna will participate in a meeting about migrant and seasonal workers and the COVID response.

Donna and Colt Knight are doing a series of animal workshops.

Livestream FB and ZOOM has been very successful ways to reach people for the plant clinics.

A cattle handling workshop is being planned for Sept. or October. Saturdays will not be a good day to schedule it.

Donna met with Stetson Library about a farmers’ market

Donna did a weed identification workshop for Ana Bonstedt, our former home horticulture CEA.

The 4th Friday plant clinics are being recorded. This is reaching many more people than just a live version.

Beth suggested a 4th Friday topic related to what pests are a problem in pastures during a drought.

The office is open 4 days a week after much planning and paperwork. Penobscot County is still not open. Plans are for it to open on August 31.

Unfinished business:
20-21 budget discussion.

Carol was lead on writing the cover letter for the budget request and highlights report. Donna will print the letter and take it to the commissioners. In the past, Donna and Beth signed the letter and will do so again. It will need to be edited now that the office has reopened. Ben asked if any COVID money was received. The state supplied materials such as hand sanitizer and plastic barriers. There was no PPP money as we were not eligible. We should have a response ready if that question is asked by anyone from the county budget committee.

The budget narrative includes a reminder about the request for extra staff for an additional 4 hours. This year we will not ask for more money, but next year we will be asking for the other 4 hours so we can be open 4 days a week. This year we did not calculate the number of volunteer hours as usual, but next year when things are more typical we should get a current, accurate number of hours. We could ask volunteers to record their hours for 20-21 so we can get more accurate numbers. The in-kind value of the office is an estimate. We are still not back to the 2009 level of funding, following the big cut in 2010.

There were differences in the highlights report depending on the version of Word, so Donna resent it in PDF.

We would like to know what other counties have as a yearly carryover in their budgets. A percentage would be fine, we don’t need to know exact figures. Donna will ask, maybe Lisa Phelps has that information.

Gretchen moved to accept the report to the commissioners with the revisions to the cover letter. Seconded by Steve. Motion passed, all in favor.

Everyone should bring one suggestion of a possible new member to the next meeting. We will
ask Anette to find out when the terms are up for current members.

Steve asked what is being done to follow up with people who are starting to produce food locally. Donna explained that we have videos for gardening and food preservation, as well as publications. Donna thought that it might be good to put some of these on DVD for those without computer access.

Gretchen asked if Donna could work with agencies such as hospitals to help them to buy local foods. Some recent publications about buying freezer beef, pork, and poultry have been made. Beth suggested having an FAQ session about what is working or causing problems this year. Extension has IPM reports for potatoes, corn, and strawberries. There is an “Ask the Experts” Garden and Yard page.  Ben would like to see something with Chef Rob about cuts of meat and grades of meat in the grocery store.

There is a Maine Highlands farmers market where you order online and pick up the produce at the American Legion in Dover-Foxcroft on Tuesdays.

Ben moved and Steve seconded to adjourn. Motion passed.

Next meeting September 14 at 3:00.

Sheila Norman, notetaker.