UT Extension to cut 60 agents, specialists across the state
Knox, Blount and Cocke counties are among those across the state losing agriculture expertise as the University of Tennessee Extension rolls out permanent cuts of 60 agents and specialists.
All of the cuts were achieved over the past two years through attrition and retirement incentives funded with federal stimulus money. Stimulus funds also provided for some of those retirees to continue working part time to fill in the gaps. The money - and nearly all of the part-time positions - will end on July 1.
Now the extension service must shuffle the remaining agents to cover counties where retirement and attrition left too many vacancies.
Nineteen agents will reapply for 28 open positions in other counties across the state. The other nine positions will then be opened for external candidates.
The cuts reflect a 15 percent drop in the number of agents and specialists in the state, a figure that has dwindled to 261. All 95 counties will continue to operate an office, and each office will staff between one and four agents.