Friday, March 15, 2013

Sun Valley teens ‘get up, stand up’

Youth Commission submits proposal to City Council

Express Staff Writer

Community School junior Taylor Adler meets with Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe last year. Photo by Mountain Express

Nine Sun Valley youths have given themselves a voice in a system that allows them to work—and pay taxes—without elected representation. The so-called Sun Valley Youth Commission has presented a proposal to the City Council with some suggestions to shape up life in the town for those under 18.

The Youth Commission—which is the brainchild of Community School junior Taylor Adler, serves to advise the city’s officials on matters that concern young people. Adler, the commission’s president, pitched the concept to Mayor Dewayne Briscoe last spring, and the council approved assembly of the commission shortly after.

At a council meeting on Thursday, March 7, Adler and commission Vice President Chase Hutchinson, a junior at Wood River High School, presented a proposal to the council listing three main areas of concern to the commission: drug and alcohol abuse among the commissioners’ peers, a lack of sober activities that are “of interest” to teens and the council’s relatively recent decision to lower support to the Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department.

In the city’s fiscal 2012 budget, the council lowered support for the Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department from $30,000—the amount requested by Ketchum—to $20,000. Sun Valley’s fiscal 2013 budget kept the contribution at $20,000. Sun Valley contributes to Ketchum’s Parks and Recreation Department because it does not have one of its own, yet many Sun Valley residents use Ketchum parks and many Sun Valley youngsters are enrolled in the department’s programs.

“This shortage may affect youth recreation programming as well as the number of youths who have the opportunity to participate,” the proposal states.

Council President Bob Youngman said there’s no indication that the contribution reduction will affect Sun Valley youth and suggested that the commissioners listen to a recording of the discussion that led to the council’s decision on that matter.

However, Ketchum Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Smith said in an interview that the city will likely cease providing discounts to Sun Valley residents, employees and officials, who currently receive the same discounts as those of Ketchum for fees such as those charged for park reservations and kids programs. She said Sun Valley’s impact on her department is just under $70,000 per year.

Councilwoman Michelle Griffith said providing sober events for youths would give them an opportunity to make a decision to participate in an activity that does not involve alcohol or drugs. However, the council members advised Adler that holding such events won’t solve the problem entirely.

The commission is not asking for city money to support its four proposed events, one each season. In fact, Adler said at the meeting that he hopes they will generate revenue for the city. The proposal states that the commission would charge admission, which Adler said shouldn’t be a problem because many of the youths have jobs and could afford to pay. He “conservatively” estimated event attendance at about 300 students.

Youngman suggested testing the concept by beginning with just one event and suggested that Adler return in April with an updated proposal with specific plans for one event. The council members offered to help the commissioners draft their updated proposal.

Brennan Rego:



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