Mayor names Salisbury Youth Advisory panel

The Salisbury City Council on Monday unanimously approved appointment of members to the Youth Development Advisory Committee, for a term ending in May 2019.

Names of the committee members were recommended by Mayor Jake Day, who said the group will be responsible for advising him on topics including planning  a new community center and the summer jobs program.

Committee members will reach into all sectors of the community and was intended to be diverse, Day said.

Appointed were: Bishop Jesse Abbott, Gaylena Bivens, Joann Blackmon, Tom Brown, Mandel Copeland, Alexis Dashield; Zach Davis, Aaron Deal, Debbie Donoway, Mike Dunn, Harlan Eagle, Tom Evans, Kim Gillis, Amber Green, Terry Greenwood, Donna Hanlin; Dr. Ray Hoy, Michele Hughes, Josh James, Erica Joseph, Kevin Lindsay, Matt Maciarello, Jermichael Mitchell, Kathleen Momme, Walt Moore, Bryan Murfree, Pamela Patey; Jennifer Shahan, Erin Sheehan, Robby Sheehan, Lisa Simone, Jessica Sims, Jim Thomas, Mark Thompson, Major Vic Tidman, Ed Urban and Robert Williams.

Day included $300,000, in the Capital Improvements portion of his FY17 budget – which also passed unanimously at the City Council meeting Monday — but there is no funding for operations of the center. He’s hoping philanthropists will help pay for a facility that welcomes everybody of all ages, while focusing on the educational, moral and physical growth of youth.

“Cost can’t be a barrier. In my mind, that means free to use it,” he previously told the Salisbury Independent.

“There has to be an accessibility for kids who can’t afford to have a private tutor in the home and can’t afford to go to an organization that isn’t affordable,” the mayor said.

It’s too soon to determine the location or opening date, but Day estimated it will probably take a year or more to plan and open a center.

“I’m not interested in a brand new building. It’s more about neighborhoods right now, the core of the city — Church Street, the west side, Dover Avenue, Church Street, Doverdale –need the most attention. It’s about getting it right and doing it fast so it serves the purpose and lends dignity to people’s lives,” the mayor said.

“If you look at the city’s challenges, a city with a declining crime rate year after year, a declining adult crime rate and adult arrests and relatively growing juvenile problem, we’ve got to do something for our kids,” the mayor said.

He’d like to see role models for boys who are “upstanding men” and mentors for girls who model strong self-esteem.

“All those are really good lessons. We could be a government that never talked about those things, but if we ignore this, and we ignore the next generation and what they need to be positive, we would be short changing our youth,” he said.

Council President Jack Heath said the City Council doesn’t want a place “where you throw out a basketball and the kids play.”

“We want to have an educational part of that. We want to have some guidance, some evaluation of what the needs are for particular individuals,” Heath said.

Day said he envisions mentors and guides, involvement of the public library, maybe basketball paired with homework.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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