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Kansas State cuts may lead to horticulture center’s closing

July 9, 2018

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Staff members are trying to find a way to keep one of Kansas State University’s research centers open after the school announced it would close the center south of Wichita.

Kansas State said last month that it planned to close the John C. Pair Horticulture Center in Haysville as part of budget cuts. The university cited lower state funding for higher education and declining enrollment as reasons for cutting $3.5 million from the College of Agriculture and Research and Extension’s budget this year.

University officials said they’d consider keeping the center open if people could find outside funding sources, the Wichita Eagle reported .

“We’re all very concerned about the research that is going on there going away because it is really important to not only the industry, but the general public as well,” said Dail Hong, president of Hong’s Landscaping and Nursery.

The center must find $230,000 in new revenue sources each year to be self-sustaining. It currently brings in about $30,000 a year, according to Jason Griffin, the center’s director who is tasked with organizing an advisory board to make the center self-sustaining.

“There have been lots of ideas, and we want to hear everything, even if it’s crazy,” Griffin said. “We’ve been told we need to raise revenue. Maybe sell something, or maybe we charge for the educational programs we do. Maybe we start growing crops and selling them. We need to generate that revenue.”

Gardeners, landscapers and extension agents rely on the center’s research and recommendations, he said. The university has other horticultural research centers in Manhattan and Olathe, but the Haysville center experiences conditions unique to the southern half of Kansas.

“We think it’s our flagship horticulture station,” said Cheryl Boyer, associate professor and nursery crop extension specialist at the university. “It’s certainly a jewel for Kansas, and it would be heartbreaking to lose decades of research and extension and teaching opportunities that benefit Kansans in every edge of the state.”

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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