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INDEPENDENCE — A youth employment program could help out this summer with salaries at the Grayson County recreation park.
Director Keith Weatherman presented his annual budget request to the board of supervisors earlier this month.
In that budget, Weatherman requested roughly $39,000 for part-time salaries during the summer months — the busiest part of the year.
Supervisors' Chairman Mike Maynard questioned whether Weatherman was aware of the youth employment program through Rooftop of Virginia. The program would allow those ages 14-24 — who meet financial requirements — to be employed, with all wages paid by the federal government.
Students in school that are eligible for free or reduced lunch will meet the requirements.
Weatherman said he has heard of the program, and is working towards getting the word out to anyone who thinks they may be eligible.
Although the school cannot provide a list of individuals who receive free or reduced lunch, Weatherman said school officials told him a large majority of the division's population does.
He has put the word in a few school officials' ears, in hopes they will spread the information throughout the schools.
“If we can manage this right, we can have [the federal government] pay for that $39,000 and give some kids that really need jobs a summer job,” Maynard said. “It would be a big budget cutter.”
Weatherman said, as far as he knows, the money will be available — it's just a matter of getting the kids to sign up and placing them in various positions.
One of Weatherman's concerns was making sure he had individuals qualified to be life guards.
The park has never paid for any employees to receive the life guard certification, which costs around $150, and wanted to know the legalities of paying for one person — such as an employee of the program — versus not paying for another individuals.
Maynard suggested Weatherman talk with Rooftop to see if it has any job training funds to help pay for the certification.
He then told Weatherman to try and get things going quickly, so the board knew — from a spending standpoint — how to approach the department's budget for 2009-10.
“We really need to be able to make a budget decision,” Maynard said. “And right now, I don't know why we would not reduce that part-time salary by whatever that number is. That means we are going to have to have a plan to fill those jobs through the program.”
Maynard said he felt Rooftop would work hard to advertise throughout the area, especially in the schools, but that if the eligibility goes up to age 24, there needed to be a plan in place to attract those individuals, as well.
Weatherman noted that Social Services could also provide some names and numbers for the older ones.
Another suggestion was to talk with representatives at Wytheville Community College to spread the word.
“I'm sure a lot of kids that go to WCC will be looking for work this summer,” Maynard said.
There are some limits to what employees under age 17 can do. For example, an employee must be age 18 or older to operate any machinery and climb a ladder.
Weatherman said it was his hope that an older person would be with each group of younger teens. While the younger teens could help with painting the bottom portions of a wall, the older person could be up on the ladder painting.
In regards to the rest of his budget, Weatherman said several changes had been made.
Overall, the rec park requested an additional $17,135 in funding.
In addition, Weatherman also verbally asked the board to consider $10,000 to go towards capital improvement. The park has been working to build two new baseball fields, at an estimated cost of $350,000.
Most of the money thus far has come from donations and volunteers, but Weatherman worried that may soon dry up.
“You can only go to the well so many times,” he said.
Other budget requests at the meeting that had significantly increased requests included:
• Refuse collection — requested an additional $95,911. The increase is largely due to the county's desire to begin relocating its Public Works Department, as well as additional costs for fuel.
• Building/Courthouse — requested an additional $77,750. The large increase was to replace the roof on the library, as well as a large increase in electrical costs. The courthouse has an electric boiler and County Administrator Bill Ring said the bill has significantly increased this year.
• Assessor — requested an increase of $35,908. This increase is solely because the county is in a re-assessment year. The $35,000 will go towards the roughly $250,000 the reassessment will cost the county.
• Supervisors will begin analyzing the requests during the first budget workshop on April 14 at 6:30 p.m.