CHARLESTON -- Coles County's University of Illinois Extension office is set to move from Charleston to Mattoon later this month.

The Extension office in Charleston's Northwest Business Park will be closed on Aug. 22 and the new location will be open the following day, said county Extension Director Danna Lewis.

The new location at 809 Broadway Ave. should help increase awareness of the Extension and participation in its programs in the Mattoon area, she said.

"People are very familiar with us in Charleston but not as much in Mattoon," Lewis said. "We want to increase our impact."

With the move, the county Extension office will end what's apparently been at least a 60-year presence in Charleston.

The office moved in 1998 to the business park just west of the Coles County Fairgrounds.

Before that, it was located near the downtown Charleston square where, according to the office staff at the time of the 1998 move, it had been since the 1950s.

Lewis said she began in the position as the county office's director about a year ago and at that time began talking with members of the public about what they knew about the Extension.

She said she found that that was "really a lack of knowledge" of the office outside of Charleston, leading to the decision to have a "new position for our services."

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Most people who visit the Extension office now are repeat visitors, Lewis said. Also, of the more than 200 young people in the county's 4-H programs, which the Extensions oversees, most are from the Charleston area, she added.

"We really want to expand and grow into the Mattoon area," Lewis said.

She said the 4-H center at the Coles County Fairgrounds in Charleston will remain open and still be the site for the activities that take place there now.

The Mattoon location is immediately east of Monical's Pizza. The staff will remain the same as will the phone number, 217-345-7034, and the office's hours, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Calls to the office on Aug. 22 will be redirected to one of the other four Extension offices in the Coles County region, Lewis said.

An open house at the new location is set to take place sometime in October.

In preparation for the move, the office is offering a collection of historical records, some of which date to the 1930s, free of charge. Those interested in the materials should call the office before the move.

In addition to 4-H youth programs, the Extension's services also include other agriculture and horticulture topics, consumer information and nutrition information.

More information about the county office's services is available online at https://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/findus.html.

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Contact Dave Fopay at (217) 238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave



Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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