Youth Service Team improves area facilities

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 8/26/97.

Six youth who devoted their summer to transforming local parks, public schools and city facilities were honored Monday, Aug. 18, when they graduated from the Paynesville Youth Service Team.

Team members Jessica Fisk and Dustin Hoppe of Paynesville, Sara Gilmer-Sobania, Andrea Frank, Patrick Vogt, and Patrick Hagemeier won praise from county, city, school district and other local officials for their contributions to improving area facilities.

The team was organized, sponsored and supervised by Stearns-Benton Employment and Training Council (SBETC), a partner of the Minnesota Work Force Center, St. Cloud. SBETC receives funding for Youth Service Teams to serve youth ages 14 to 21 in local communities.

About 110 youth throughout Stearns and Benton counties have scraped, painted, shoveled and swept this summer to improve area communities, while acquiring new skills and learning community responsibility.

There were eight parts to the program: team building, service tasks, work maturity, physical conditioning, reflections, journaling, punctuality, and problem solving.

New this year to the summer youth were three youth camps offering hands-on learning in science, career exploration and teamwork, plus Block-A-Thon, the world's shortest marathon, to teach community citizenship.

The Paynesville team performed a wide range of public service projects in cooperation with the city of Paynesville and Paynesville Area School District. A key focus their work centered on was opening and operating a new public concession stand at Veteran's Park on Lake Koronis. They were responsible for all areas of this project, including determining which products would be sold, maintaining inventory, purchasing, accounting, serving the public and maintaining cleanliness.

Other projects included cleaning restrooms, beach and shelter areas, picnic tables, the parking lot and boat landing at Lake Koronis, landscaping and maintenance, trimming, grooming and cleaning a nature trail, completing a park inspection report, mulching around trees, placing borders around park equipment and painting picnic tables and the park shelter.

The team also painted the city's main lift building, painted the ambulance garage and washed and waxed fire trucks, police cars and public service vehicles. In addition, they helped with Town and Country Days, July 14 to 18.

"Working together as a team gets you somewhere," Sarah Gilmer-Sobania said, recalling her experience working on the Paynesville team. "Smiling and getting along was really important. And if you talk to other people, you can solve your problems together."

Rom Mergen, director of public works for the city of Paynesville added, "The work experience for the kids, the team work, was great for them. The park board met and we'll have a letter going out to SBETC expressing our desire to do this again next year."

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