Sat, Dec. 07

Teen center gets city backing<br>Boys & Girls Club to transform basement<br>

The cost came down, and the city became more amenable.

The Cottonwood City Council agreed to provide $10,000 worth of funding and in-kind labor to the Boys and Girls Club of Cottonwood to start a teen center. The original asking price was about three times that amount.

"We've been able to bring down the price with volunteers," Director Tammy Catalano said. "We need help getting the structural parts done."

Council member Mike Baker, whom Catalano described as "gung-ho" about the project, worked to get local contractors to install a required alarm system and save the city about $7,000.

The club is seeking to create an area for teens away from the younger members, who are as young as 6. Catalano said it is very frustrating for the older members to wait for slower-playing little children to finish with the game tables or equipment.

About 45 of the club's 194 memberships are teens.

Grim and musty at the moment, the basement of the club, located at 817 N. Second St., is used for storage and is currently off limits to the children. When repairs and remodeling are complete and materials are moved, the area will house game tables, recreational equipment, a computer station and space for teen programs.

"We want it to be a sustainable program that will last for many, many years," Catalano said.

Cottonwood Building Official Joe Steinke provided a list of 19 suggestions to bring the building up to code. Many repairs are necessary whether the club is remodeling the basement or not.

That includes new doors and locks, drywall installation, proper ventilation, fire alarm and ground-fault protected outlets. There are shelves upstairs available for storage, and the club plans a yard sale.

Baker estimated the work might take six months, but Catalano said she is planning on a year.

The club is seeking support and grants from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and Taco Bell's TEENSupreme Career Prep Program. These would provide funding for a teen director, computers, program material, supplies and other furnishings.

The search for a teen director is nationwide through the Boys and Girls Club network.

Having a separate teen program, Catalano said, will enable the club to better hang on to its teens. The program could serve up to 80 teens.

The Boys and Girls Club teen program, besides offering recreational opportunities, also helps teens prepare for higher education and successful entry into the workplace.

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