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Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - - 11:30 a.m.

Youth Commission (schools represented):
Schroeder, South, Twining, Valley, Central, Community, Red River

Haga welcomed everyone and asked if the agenda could be adjusted to allow for Mr. Staley to present first and then the New American group, so that they could move on to other commitments.

Presentation of Mayor’s Cabinet Member – John Staley, Director, GF Park District.

Staley presented information on the new wellness center that is being designed to locate on South Washington Street south of Valley Dairy Car Wash. He explained that they are in the process of fundraising and would like to raise enough funds to construct the new facility, remodel the YMCA, and create an endowment to fund scholarships. This would mean that no tax dollars would be used for the construction of the facility and they would be able to keep the membership fees at a lower amount so that more people would be able to be members. Once built this facility would replace Center Court Fitness.

Staley reviewed the preliminary floor plan for the facility and showed how other entities would have the ability to locate and connect on to the building to provide for increased services at the site. This facility is unique in that it will include a health section where staff would be available to blood work and physical appointments and is very uncommon to have such a great collaboration with a health institution. Axvig reviewed comments from the YORS meetings on things that the youth would like to see available in the community. Lien suggested that perhaps they could look into a way so that youth could “earn” their membership by working at the facility, similar to what the YMCA used to offer. Other comments were: that would be nice to see a study area so that students could come there, study and then be able to go work out; prefer to not have a television for just watching programming in the teen space, as the purpose is to get people moving and more healthy; hours for the school facilities are limited and be good to have more time to go; and would like to see classes like First Aid available.

Haga encouraged them to take the information back to their schools and find out “What do youth want to see in the Wellness Center?” Those comments could then be forwarded to Staley.

Abby stated that they have been working on setting up a survey on Survey Monkey and if the group is interested could get that open to all schools and then easy way for youth to voice their opinion and also to tally the responses for what people would want. The YORS groups will come up with questions and bring to the next Youth Commission meeting. Questions for the survey will be finalized and given to Abby and she will get survey going. Once the survey is up, all Commissioners will need to spread the word with their friends to go online and complete it.

Community Involvement Issues – New American Program.

Heather Helgeson, Donna Bonderud, and Sam Eriksmoen, provided information on the New American Services program which helps to relocate refugees. He explained that there are 180-200 relocated to North Dakota, of which about 80 come to Grand Forks. Typically refugees come with one bag with a small amount of clothing and personal items and are in need of everything to set up a home here from furniture to dishes and toiletries. He stated that he is hoping to have a furniture drive with a pickup on February 27 and was hoping that the schools could coordinate a drive to fill totes for the smaller household items that incoming families would need. It would be possible to pick up those totes later in the year if schools found the timing of a collection later in the spring to be more workable.

The commission discussed potential ways to run a collection and possibly doing a fundraiser for cash that could be used to purchase items to fill a tote instead of or in addition to a collection of items. All felt it would be helpful to have a speaker, DVD, or other information that could be used by the students in the school to explain the program and collection to their peers. As this is an ongoing community need, the group discussed that perhaps this could become an annual event and try to get off the ground this year and then build on it for future years with addition of a walk-a-thon or scavenger hunt, tote passing, newspaper ads, etc.

Haga volunteered that the City could assist with a short video creation and editing if that was needed. Students will visit about this at their YORS meetings and bring back ideas for further discussion next meeting.

Haga stated that the next meeting is scheduled for February 17, which is the Mayor’s State of the City address and invited the group to attend the speech. The Commission will meet for a few minutes prior to the speech, attend the speech, and then meet for a short time following to wrap up any final comments. Meeting will be at 11:30 a.m. at the Alerus Center.

Meeting adjourned at 1:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sherie Lundmark
Admin Spec Sr.