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Gang-free grant money leads to another committee

Sunnyside City Councilman Jim Restucci has been working to figure out how the city can best use the anti-gang grant it received along with Yakima and Toppenish, and Restucci brought a draft resolution to the council Monday night for discussion.

The Gang Free Initiative grant gives the city $10,500 for planning on how to eliminate gang activity in the Sunnyside area. The grant may be followed by other grants to help the city carry out plans, but at the moment the city has the money to plan and the council delegated the organization of a planning committee to Restucci.

His plan consists of forming an ad-hoc committee made up of representatives from all areas of the Sunnyside community, with required representatives from a number of organizations, including the school district, hospital, ministerial association and police.

At Monday's council workshop meeting, Restucci asked for input on the plan from other council members.

Councilwoman Theresa Hancock noted that regular citizens needed to be represented on the committee, not just community leaders.

Councilman Jason Raines expressed concern that Restucci had included the school district as one representative and also both a Sunnyside High School parent and Sunnyside High School student. He asked if the committee really needed three representatives from the education sector.

Raines also noted that the last attempt at an anti-gang committee had resulted in overwhelming support and participation initially that dwindled quickly. Restucci said the group would set goals, both long-term and short-term, to allow progress to be measured.

Restucci noted that anyone who wants to be on the committee will be asked to submit an application and suggested that some of the funding may be used to advertise the effort.

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