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STURGIS | Jenny Voigt hopes to no longer be known as The Cart Lady.

Voigt, SDSU extension 4-H youth program adviser, oversees 15 4-H clubs and more than 280 4-H members spread out over thousands of square miles of expansive Meade County.

Until earlier this year, she had been working from a small office in the Erskine Building, a former Sturgis school building renovated to house county offices.

The many supplies needed for the myriad of hands-on 4-H science, health, agriculture and citizenship projects were spread out among three other locations: a classroom at another former elementary school building where 4-H’ers maintain outdoor gardens; a building at the county fairgrounds near Sturgis Brown High School east of town, and the SDSU Extension Office a block west of the Erskine Building.

“I just had to haul everything everywhere, it was so spread out. I had a cart behind me everywhere I went,” she said. “They used to laugh and call me the Cart Lady."

But now Voigt and the Meade County 4-H’ers have most everything under one roof.

In January, county officials welcomed the 4-H program into the former Register of Deeds office in the Meade County Courthouse on Sherman Street.

When a $5.6 million renovation of the 118-year-old Erskine Building was completed in 2008-09, all county services were moved there, leaving judicial activities only at the courthouse.

Voigt said a recent decision allowing her to hire a part-time secretary pushed the space issue in the Erskine Building to critical mass. “I got to talking to maintenance and saying we might have to move around some desks to make a little better space,” she said. “A custodian suggested inquiring about moving to empty office space in the Meade County Courthouse, and it just fell into place perfectly."

But only after a 4th Circuit judge and the county commission signed off on the move. "There was lots of empty office space here, and they wanted to see it used," Voigt said.

Now Voigt and her 4-H kids can hold meetings and work on projects in the new space, which she believes is 10 times the size of her former office in the Erskine Building.

And dozens of bins of craft and other project supplies are neatly organized in what was the Register of Deeds records room. “To be in one location like this is just crazy, I feel spoiled,” she said.

Junior leader Brady Buchholz, 15, a freshman at Sturgis Brown High School, who has been involved in 4-H for eight years, called the move a big step. “Before I didn’t even know we had an office it was so small, and now it’s all here,” he said.

The Meade County 4-H office, located at 1425 Sherman St., celebrated its move with an open house and ribbon-cutting on Monday.

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