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Citizens discuss youth center

Ideas of a skate park, cafe tossed out at first meeting

DIXON – The idea for a youth center may not have a name just yet, but it has momentum.

At the first meeting to talk about establishing a youth center Tuesday, 14 people, including Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller and Dixon YMCA Executive Director Andrew McFarlane, showed up at the Loveland Community House and Museum to share ideas.

Steve Wilson, building manager at Loveland Community House and Museum, was inspired by a column written in the Dixini, the Dixon High School student newspaper. The headline to the article read: “Places to go and things to do – not so much.”

The author, Dixon senior Trevor Mixen, was one of two teenagers there Tuesday.

Ideas ranged from opening up a hangout with a cafe to building a skate park. More ideas included movie nights, dances, a teenage band scene, incorporating art projects and using the facility for foster family visits. The group agreed there needs to be more affordable activities geared to youth ages 12 to 18.

“There’s nothing for teens to specifically do in Dixon,” Wilson said.

Once the idea is off the ground, Wilson suggested forming a board of trustees to oversee the youth center. He said the organization would pursue 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

He said money would have to come from grants, fundraising and private donations, with the goal of establishing a trust fund.

McFarlane suggested bringing together teenage leaders to form an advisory board that would work on the vision for the youth center. In his previous experience at the Two Rivers YMCA in the Quad Cities, he headed a similar teen advisory group that was able to raise $150,000 and organize events that attracted 800 to 900 teenagers.

Also, McFarlane offered the YMCA’s facility to help plan activities in the early going.

Wilson said he doesn’t want the youth center to push religion, despite being a religious person himself, nor did he want it to involve local government.

The immediate goal of the group is to spread the word to boost attendance at the next meeting, especially more teenagers. Mixen said he is going to start a Facebook page for the group.

Next meeting

Anyone interested in helping organize a youth center in Dixon can attend the group's next meeting, at 7 p.m. May 13 at the Loveland Community House and Museum, 513 W. Second St. For more information, call 815-284-2741.

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