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Looking for community assets

WARRENSBURG Over 34 percent of the people in Warrensburg feel that activities for youth is the biggest issue facing the town. Thats the result of the survey sent out by the Comprehensive Planning Committee last May. About 20 percent of those mailed had been returned. Problems with youth is clearly uppermost in many residents minds. It only makes sense for that committee to pay attention and take part in the Community Mapping program being undertaken by the ACT (Assets Coming Together) group. Student volunteers have been trained in the use of GPS positioning, interviewing and other skills, and with the collaboration of Warren County Youth, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Comprehensive Planning Committee, they went out in groups last week to talk to representatives of local businesses and other organizations. Theres a perception in Warrensburg that there is nothing to do, said Sheri Norton of Warren County Planning. People dont see any opportunities after school or over the summer, so we are looking into what the community does have to offer. Each group of students had a list of places to visit along with an interview sheet with questions and a GPS unit to put the exact location on a map. Were looking for job opportunities, internships and other activities for youth and were hoping when this is done, we will plot the information on a map that can be accessed online, Norton said. Students visited area accommodations, funeral homes, parks and recreational spots and other places that could translate into experiences for them. Were finding places where youth our age can go instead of getting into trouble, said 11th grader Travis Acuna, as he made his way around town with his group. Ninth grader Kristin Combs said the mapping project was a good way for her and the other students to use GPS. I want to be able to talk to people, she said shyly. She doesnt have trouble finding things to do in her spare time, since she is a gymnast. Senior Jeremy Bertsche has been involved with 4-H for the last 10 years, which is a component of the ACT program. Our overall goal is to map out what kids can do instead of going home and doing things theyre not supposed to do, he said. Right now, theres not much to do, and in winter, it really deadens if youre not involved in a sport or a job. Laura Moore of Warren County Planning has spearheaded the towns comprehensive planning effort, and she said the committee will look closely at the data brought in by the student mappers. The comprehensive plan will include goals and objectives specific to youth in the community, she said. Its one of the biggest issues in our town survey. She said that respondents provided a strong opinion at 52 percent that the communitys youth services are in need of improvement. Students will be out in the community again soon, to continue the mapping progress.

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