Oak Creek Grand Futures may be one step closer to forming a youth service council in south Routt after hearing public input about the needs of local youth at a community meeting Monday night in Oak Creek.
Adults and teenagers at the meeting said more youth activities should be made available and current services need to be more visible and accessible for south Routt residents.
"I want to see more things for kids to do so we don't have to go to Steamboat," high school student Jamie Iacovetto said, echoing the comments of many teenagers at the meeting.
Lynnea Teters said youth and health services should be more accessible to young people in south Routt so residents wouldn't have to be dependent on Steamboat Springs.
South Routt school psychologist Lea Treanor said there are health and human agencies in the area but "kids don't know what services we have in our community."
Many of those services were represented at the meeting.
Members of the Visiting Nurse Association, Advocates Against Battering and Abuse, Partners, Planned Parenthood and Routt County Human Services explained their role in south Routt or showed interest in helping youth in the area.
Also, representatives of the Routt County Sheriff's Office and the Oak Creek Police Department expressed interest in developing better relationships with young people.
"There is a need to improve communication with the police," Grand Futures community coordinator Susan Phillips said.
That was addressed in previous meetings, she said.
"You guys say, 'We don't have a good relationship,' and I'd say you're right," Undersheriff Dan Taylor said to the teenagers in the crowd.
If a youth service council was formed, Grand Futures, which is a substance abuse prevention agency, hopes it could help solve some of those problems.
"It's really important to identify what the youth need and want," Phillips said.
The council would be used as a liaison group between the young people in south Routt and service and activity providers in the area.
Phillips became involved with youth needs in south Routt after Grand Futures held a public meeting in the spring of '98 and found out there was a problem with matching children and adults in the community with human services.
In November, community members met and determined that south Routt residents needed to be more involved in the community. They also decided that there is a need for more local services and activities and existing services need to be more efficient for the youth, Phillips said.
If a council was formed in south Routt, Phillips would want the youth to take a leadership role, with help from adults.
"I don't want it to be adult-driven," she said. "Ultimately, Grand Futures would pull back and just be a member."
Soroco High School principal Rich Coleman supports the formation of the group and sees the importance of schools' roles.
"It's a community-school relationship issue," he said.
He said he supports the youth council idea. As far providing entertainment for young people, Coleman would like to see the council focus on community-project activities.
Though Monday's showed their is community support for the formation of a youth council, much still needs to be done.
"We have a lot of different agencies and services in south Routt and they all come from a different philosophical perspective," community member Scott Kirton said. "It would be nice to come together to have a mission statement."
Phillips said the community will have to come up with a shared vision for the council before any major steps forward can be taken.
Those at the meeting agreed that another community forum should be scheduled for next month to iron out some of the details.
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