Oak Creek teens, officials brainstorm ideas

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— The evening started with bickering among adults but ended with 17-year-old Sam Wisecup, president of Oak Creek's Youth Council, pounding the gavel brought to him by Mayor Cargo Rodeman and making motions like a true government leader.

Twenty-some youth were gathered in Town Hall Thursday night after Rodeman hand delivered almost 400 invitations to a "meeting with the Mayor & Bea."

Graffiti found in a mining bucket monument in Town Park and a broken door and windows at the hockey rink sparked yet another discussion in Oak Creek that the youths need something to keep them occupied and on ways to refocus their anger.

The kids, ages 4 to 18, sat silently at first as Rodeman wrote a list of possible activities on the dry-erase board at the front of the conference room. The list suggested pool tournaments, dances, movie nights, bingo and night tag.

After spending an afternoon inside the mining bucket with a wire brush and graffiti remover, Rodeman decided to approach Oak Creek business owners and ask them to open their doors to bored and frustrated teens.

The VFW, The Colorado Bar, Chelsea's restaurant and Big Tuna's restaurant all agreed to close their businesses to regular customers for one night a month in rotation and open their doors solely to area youths.

Chelsea's will be the first, Rodeman said. Owner Dave Epstein plans to cover his bar for one night on Labor Day weekend and offer a movie night to teen-agers.

"This is a temporary solution to a longtime problem," Rodeman said. She repeatedly told the teens in attendance that if they have a problem, they could come to Town Hall and take it out on her, not on town property.

She promised to put energy into getting grant money and other funding for a public swimming pool, discussed in Oak Creek for decades.

The promises and call for discussion brought up a sore subject among several teens in the room.

Tyson Wisecup of the Youth Council was in attendance and had invited Dave Miller to the meeting to speak up for the group. Miller has been an adviser to the council for three years.

As Bea Cole led the group into discussion of the future of youths in Oak Creek, Miller argued these were decisions that needed to be voted on by the Youth Council.

"They are the governing body of youth in this town," Miller said.

Cole, who did not even know of the council, promised her plan was not to take power away from teens.

Initially, Tyson Wisecup was the only council member in the room, but soon Sam Wisecup and Steve Anderson showed up, and all three took their places at the conference table. Cole asked them to make several decisions including whether they wanted to open a bank account today under the Town of Oak Creek's tax ID number. Sam made the motion and asked for a vote of all the youths in the room. The motion passed. The group chose two adults, Cole and Miller, and two Youth Council members as signatories to the account.

Proceeds from a dunk tank fund-raiser, a donation drive and a check from Grand Futures Prevention Coalition will be deposited into the account.

The second subject to be addressed was the planning of a night tag game for Aug. 24. In the same manner, the group agreed to come before the Town Board on Aug. 22 to request a special-use permit. If approved, it would hold the game on the chosen date with prizes purchased from its new bank account.

By the end of the meeting, the Youth Council had several decisions made, a new treasurer/secretary and a few kids asking how they could get on the council. Kids brainstormed about fund-raising ideas and ways to advertise events.

Sam Wisecup looked around the room in amazement at the number of teens who came to the meeting.

"I'm surprised that there are this many people here," he said. "We got more done tonight in 10 minutes than we have in months."

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