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Group seeks to establish teen center

by Merrie Leininger, Staff Writer

Seventeen parents, teachers, businesspeople and a student met Monday night to brainstorm bringing a teen center to the community.

The group discussed the positives and negatives of starting this project and decided the pros heavily outweighed the cons. They set another meeting date for 6:30 p.m. March 8 at the Douglas County Public Library.

One of the organizers, Tish Sammon, director of Teens with a Future, said she thinks the group will be successful because members are all committed to action, instead of just talking about it.

“I was happy with the enthusiastic response and participation. The interest expressed tonight was wonderful. It was an excellent starting point,” she said.

Sammon said another reason the group should be successful is because everyone works in different organizations and brings in different resources.

“I’m pleased it’s such a community-based approach. It’s not just one organization working for this,” she said.

Members of the Douglas County Juvenile Probation Office, the Salvation Army, Douglas County Parks and Recreation and Cooperative Extension were at the meeting as were businesspeople such as Jack Fleming of J.J. Fleming and Associates and Byron Waite of Moneytree Mortgage.

“Jack and I have been working together a lot trying to figure out a way to put this together,” Waite said. “It’s something that will complete the community. It’s something outside of school that will give kids a different perspective on life.”

Fleming, a general contractor, said he is willing to donate his company’s time to building the center. He said the group should forget the naysayers and just get down to business.

“I’ve never started a project like this when we’ve had enough money. Everyone says it will never work, but you just do it and the help comes,” Fleming said.

The Rev. Tony Williams of the Second Baptist Church of Reno, has lived in Gardnerville for five years and said as an ex-correctional officer and an employee of the Center Street Mission in Reno, he has a great desire to help teen-agers of this area.

“We’ve got a lot of young boys that think they’re tough, but they just need someone to say, ‘Been there, done that,'” Williams said. “It’s been my dream since I came to the Valley.”

The group listed strengths, weaknesses, dangers and benefits of starting the work on a teen center.

At the next meeting, members will focus on how to turn the weaknesses into strengths.

Monday night they also made a list of things they want to see in the teen center.

The wish list included: eventual teen ownership; a technology center including computers and video equipment; a theater; a business run by the teens; a skatepark; and transportation to and from the center.