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Grandview leaders discuss cooperative efforts

GRANDVIEW - In a joint meeting last night between the Grandview City Council and School Board, leaders of the community discussed cooperative efforts between two entities.

On the agenda were discussions regarding the city and school coalition, which serves to assist youth in the community.

School Superintendent Kevin Chase said the efforts of the coalition have been in effect for two years.

The coalition consists of police officials, school district staff and the parole officer responsible for Grandview youth.

Chase said the city's "Frenzy Fridays" for middle school students resulted from the efforts of the coalition and has proven to be effective in helping youth participate in constructive activities.

He also said the group recently heard from a group of 15 youngsters who have united in an effort to form a local Barrios Unidos chapter. Chase said the coalition was impressed by the youngsters' willingness to create a positive environment within the community.

"They are a group of local kids interested in working for the community with positive goals," said Chase.

The recent gang legislation passed in Olympia was also discussed in concordance with Grandview's city ordinances.

Mayor Norm Childress said he was encouraged by the gang legislation and feels the city is headed in the "right direction" with its ordinances.

He told the council members and board members that the city is planning to revise the ordinance to meet language requirements.

"We have a start. The fact that the recent court ruling that language was too broad gives us direction," said Childress of the local laws on the books.

He assured the leaders gathered that the city would bolster the ordinance and said he feels it would be beneficial for the district to become involved in the process...especially where the issue of "truancy" is involved.

"I know you have truancy guidelines and we would like to ensure the process is consistent," said Childress.

Grandview High School Principal Mike Closner explained the efforts the district has made in reducing truancy. He said the district has had to file 105 petitions through the Becca bill and its process.

The results have been positive, according to Closner, because the students realize the district is serious regarding attendance matters.

He and Chase informed the leaders that the process involves a signed agreement between the school and the parents and students before petitions can be brought before the court system.

"They have to sign the agreement to work out issues preventing the student from attending classes regularly. If they break the agreement, we can file the petition," said Closner.

Childress informed the leadership that the city has been faced with a couple of issues. He asked that the district continue its support of the community in whatever capacity it could.

One issue city leaders have been facing has been what to do with its swimming pool.

Childress said he feels it is important for the city to continue providing a pool, and it is currently seeking community support in devising a facility which would be acceptable.

"We got the message that the aquatic center is out," he said, stating city leaders are in a process of discovery...seeking a facility the community members would approve.

City Manager Scott Staples said another issue the city is currently in the process of dealing with involves Country Park.

He said the city is seeking ways in which it might be able to maximize the value of the park, which he considers beyond comparison.

Staples said the city is considering ways in which it might better market the park.

Childress chimed in on the issue of a private utility tax that will be on ballots due out this week.

He said the tax was suggested by community members interested in continuing city services currently being received.

"We are trying to be proactive toward the 2009-10 budget deficit projection," said Childress.

He said city leaders held several community meetings, allowing citizens to look at the costs involved in providing services.

The citizens who attended the meetings worked together toward the solution they felt was best.

As a result, the group suggested a private utility tax be added to bills, such as those for cable services.

City Councilman Jesse Palacios said, "This tax will help maintain current services."

Childress reiterated that the plan was developed by the community and not the city leadership. He said he feels the community-based effort makes the plan different because city government is not providing the solution it feels is best.

The group concluded its meeting expressing appreciation for all the efforts provided by both the school district staff and city staff.

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