By JANET VOGTLI
At a Community Conversation held last April attended by more than 50 area residents, three priority areas of need were identified. They were: youth services, transportation and jobs. On Oct. 17, a follow up meeting was held to discuss what might be done next. Those present agreed to work together to establish an after-school program at Gowanda Middle School as their first project.
The group's decision to pursue an after school program not only focuses on one of the priorities identified last April but also supports the efforts of the Youth Development Committee, a group of community stakeholders linked to Gowanda United Way that has been searching for ways to help the youth in our community.
As a member of the Gowanda's Neighborhood Watch, I am writing to voice my support for this important effort. The need for this program is underscored by the recent break-in and vandalism to the home of the late Rosemary Harris, a well known longtime teacher and member of the Neighborhood Watch. The act was perpetrated by four middle school aged youngsters. Our community needs to take steps now to provide positive and meaningful alternatives to this type of behavior and an after school program is a good first step.
I urge you to attend the Gowanda Board of Education's next regular meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Middle School library to learn more about the advantages of an after-school program and how it can help deter juvenile crime and other risk behaviors.
Janet Vogtli is a Collins resident.