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Council approves Sunnyside Promise contract

Last night (Monday) the Sunnyside City Council gave City Manager Mark Gervasi unanimous consent to sign two contracts with Sunnyside's Promise.

The first contract is for $50,000 to be paid to the organization to continue its services for youth in the community, and the other contract authorizes just more than $36,000 to be used by Sunnyside's Promise for operating the Sunnyside Community Center through the remainder of the year.

During the unscheduled appearances by citizens segment of the meeting Sister Grace Diaz urged the Sunnyside City Council to look at the Parks and Recreation Department budget from years past. She suggested the council consider the cost of operating a Parks and Recreation Department with the cost of giving Sunnyside's Promise the funding needed to continue operating its programs.

"I'm thinking that exceeded the funding requested by Sunnyside's Promise," she said of the Parks and Recreation Department budget.

Scott Beyer, the city's attorney from Menke Jackson Beyer Ehlis & Harper, LLP, said the funding to support the operations of Sunnyside's Promise is viewed as funding to continue youth programs.

The $50,000 the city approved for this purpose helps continue the Lucky 7 Bike Shop program, after-school programs, coordinated support of local soccer programs and the youth referral program to case managers. He said the funding also helps in the effort of using Sunnyside's Promise's newest grant through the Children's Justice Task Force.

Beyer also said the contract for the funding stipulates Sunnyside's Promise provide quarterly reports regarding the youngsters served and new grants received.

"Sunnyside's Promise is overseeing some of the programs once overseen by the city of Sunnyside's Parks and Recreation," said Beyer.

Deputy Mayor Nick Paulakis asked for further information on the grant awarded by the Children's Justice Task Force.

Mark Baysinger, Sunnyside's Promise director, told the council the grant provides Sunnyside's Promise the ability to act in an outreach capacity, providing youngsters who have been affected by sex trafficking with resources to which they can turn.

After speaking with other agencies in the Lower Yakima Valley like Lower Valley Crisis and Support Services, it was determined the youth who have been traded for drugs and/or sexed into or out of gangs needed to know there are organizations willing to help them.

Councilman Don Vlieger said he and Councilman Mike Farmer have visited the community center to see firsthand the programs being provided for youth in the community.

"The programs are excellent," said Vlieger.

He said he is also impressed that the facilities are clean and youngsters enjoy the activities, like basketball, while at the community center.

Vlieger asked for clarification regarding the use of the $50,000, stating he wasn't clear if it was to be used for operation of the Sunnyside Community Center or Sunnyside's Promise organization itself.

Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer Byron Olson said the money consists of $31,000 from the Parks and Recreation fund and $19,000 from the crime prevention fund. It is solely for the operations of Sunnyside's Promise and funding to operate the community center is a different matter.

The council provided a unanimous vote of approval for the contract to continue operations of Sunnyside's Promise programs.

Later, City Manager Mark Gervasi addressed the council, giving them a recommendation to move forward with a temporary contract for operating the community center.

The contract details the operation hours and the pay for a community center director, as well as a part-time janitor.

The director of the center would be paid $15 per hour, which includes worker's compensation, social security, state retirement and unemployment insurance.

Gervasi told Council the center would be operational for just more than 40 hours each week, and the janitor would be paid $10.84 per hour.

He added the figures through December 2011 and told council funding would be just more than $36,000.

Mayor Jim Restucci had one comment. He said he would like the community center director to be a paid city employee, but was willing to sign off on the temporary contract for now.

The Sunnyside City Council again provided unanimous consent to the contract as outlined by Gervasi.

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