MEXICO — This is not the time for a
community kitchen to move into the newly renovated and expanded
Region 9 vocational school, board members said at their meeting
Tuesday night.

But they also don’t want to shut the
door completely to the proposal presented by the Shared Use Kitchen

“Maybe they could come back next
year. We’re not completely stabilized and we haven’t worked out all
the bugs here yet,” said board Chairman Norman Clanton.

The Shared Use Kitchen Committee, which
operates under the organizational umbrella of the River Valley Growth
Council with the assistance of the state agency, Rural Economic and
Community Development, proposed a tentative plan to use the
vocational school’s kitchen to establish a shared kitchen for small
agricultural producers. They also tied that plan to the
possibility of helping to set up a culinary arts program for Region 9

At a meeting of Region 9’s Program
Committee and the Shared Use Kitchen Committee last month,
spokespeople for the kitchen committee said they needed to know
whether the Region 9 site was possible before going ahead with trying
to secure funding for the project.

But at that meeting, as well as at
Tuesday’s board meeting, many Region 9 board members had lots of

“We need a more concrete plan. We
need something laid out from A to Z,” Frank DiConzo said.

They want to know who would manage a
shared kitchen, how such an expanded kitchen would be maintained, how
it would affect the vocational education of Region 9 students, and
the legal and insurance ramifications of combining business with
education, among other concerns.

“We’re not ruling it out, but they
have a long way to go,” Clanton said.

Board member Randy Canwell said too
many new vocational programs have recently begun or are about to
begin to accommodate yet another program.

“I believe it will be too much of a
conflict with our kids,” he said.

Jeff Sterling, member of the school’s
Program Committee, agreed that many questions need to be answered.
But he also doesn’t want to close the door to possibilities.

“The surveys showed by far that
people wanted a culinary arts program. We have a group willing to put
all the equipment in. I don’t know how you can’t look at that,” he
said, adding that it would likely be at least another two years
before considering the establishment of such a program.

The Region 9 board decided last year to
begin programs in early childhood development and automotive
technology rather than culinary arts because of the high costs
associated with offering culinary education.

The board voted unanimously to listen
to a plan at some time in the future.

“The ball is in their court,”
Clanton said.

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