Picture: Fallon Foster, left, thanks Orange County commissioners Tuesday afternoon after they appointed her as the new County Coordinator/Department Head for the Orange County Extension Office upon the recommendation of Texas A&M AgriLife Administrator Dale Fritz, right.

By Dave Rogers

For The Record

County commissioners unanimously promoted Fallon Foster to head what will be a restructured Orange County Extension Office at Tuesday’s session of commissioners court.

“I think she’s very qualified, she’s very capable and I think she can do a good job,” Dale Fritz, Extension Administrator for Texas A&M AgriLife, said in recommending Foster, who has worked in the Orange office for four-plus years.

A native of Beaumont with a master’s degree in public health, Foster is replacing Christina Ritter as County Coordinator/Department Head for the Orange County Extension Office.

Ritter resigned after her husband took a job in Conroe, Fritz said.

After a 4-0 vote for Foster’s appointment – County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton was absent – Fritz told the court of another vacancy that can’t be filled immediately.

Ashley Krebs, who had been the third of the county’s three extension agents, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, has resigned to take a job with the Kirbyville school district.

Because of a state hiring freeze, a replacement for Krebs cannot be added until Sept. 1, Fritz said, but he vowed to begin immediately seeking a replacement.

The same state budget crunch that brought the hiring freeze is forcing a restructuring of AgriLife.

“We may not keep as many extension agents,” Fritz said. “A reduction in state appropriations for the agency means we may have two agents and an aide for 4-H [in Orange.]”

Foster has worked primarily in the area of Family Consumer Sciences. Fritz pointed out she had also been active with youth programming and the parts of 4-H programming that had to do with family consumer sciences.

“This department has been one of the highlights of our year; when you come in with all the things that you do,” Commissioner Barry Burton told Foster.

“You’ve been there. You know what you’re doing. I’d like to see this be a seamless transition under you and I just hope ya’ll will continue doing a great job.”

Foster didn’t hesitate with her reply.

“I think it will continue to be a great success,” she said. “The good thing is we have great volunteers to kind of take over some slack.”

The AgriLife calendar for the remainder of the summer includes the Michael Hoke Outdoor Awareness class and sewing workshops for children, a canning class for adults and Clover Camp for 4-H.

“We’ve got a lot of positives, a lot of things going on,” Foster said. “It’s going to continue to go. I’ll make sure everything works the way it needs to go.”

In other business Tuesday, the county deposited a check for $404,000 for May sales tax receipts and wrote a check for $777,000. That included $518,000 expense under “other funds.”

County Auditor Pennee Schmitt, said $500,000 was for Hurricane Ike recovery expenses – mostly road materials – and it was a bookkeeping move from “general fund” to allow for a reimbursement by the federal government.