With the Urban Youth Corps program winding down next week, the fruits of their labor can be seen at City Hall and on several city streets where they painted decorative street markers.
Tasks such as painting, buffing floors and placing sod gave them work to do for the benefit of the city, and the participants also had several educational sessions. City department heads spent some time with them to describe how the municipality works.
Sixteen-year-old Javen Morrison said it has been a good way to spend the summer.
“It has helped us grow a lot and understand what the other people do with the city,” he said.
The biggest part of the project was creation of the green space with sod, plants and landscaping immediately behind City Hall. It only cost the city about $2,500, said Projects Coordinator Kim Ratliff, thanks to donation of a landscaping plan from Four Seasons and a pallet of decorative stone from Rocky Mountain Stones.
The group painted numerous decorative street markers in the downtown area, painted walls in the fire department and did some odd jobs at the Bishop Center.
“Every youth group takes on its own personality since we’ve been doing this program,” said Ratliff. “It has been great to see the progress they have made with the work that they’ve done this summer. They have done a fabulous job with painting the fire department, and they did a fabulous job with the decorative signposts downtown.”
Several youths who have worked for the city through the program have been able to use the experience to land a permanent job.
“It has accomplished a lot of goals all the way around,” said Ratliff. “Our citizens have benefited as well as another group of youth have received some development opportunities.”
The youth corps is a Federal Highway Administration program administered by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The city received a $35,000 grant to carry out the program for people ages 16 to 25.