Fresh perspective for county government

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By Katy Korkos

A brand-new county board will have its first official meeting Monday, when the Youth Advisory Board meets at Mesa Public Library.

With the appointment of five high-school students to the board, the council hopes to keep an eye on the future of county policy for the previously unrepresented group.

High school juniors Ben Batha, Ariana Rowberry, Nat Gustafson and Adrian Figg are eligible for two-year terms on the board, and senior Colin MacArthur is eligible for a one-year term. County council approved all five members at its Oct.16 meeting.

"We have a wonderful baseline of services for youth here," MacArthur said in thanking the council for giving the group the opportunity to serve. "We'll be working hard to understand the needs of youth, and to open up avenues of communication."

MacArthur said the five members had been chosen with the goal of forming a diverse group, with some members experienced in school government, some with varsity sports experience and some who have served on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board.

"We'll try to work with all that experience in setting up our evaluatory processes," he said.

"I'm on the board to represent youth at large," Batha said Friday, "but mainly to be a voice for a group that isn't represented too well. I'll be speaking mainly for the geeks, who don't step forward very much."

Batha is supportive of county government in general, and has attended a few county council meetings in the past. He enjoys living in Los Alamos, but said, "I wish we had more things like they're proposing for Trinity Place."

Rowberry's application states, "The board is offering a chance to be proactive about something I am highly passionate about. For the youth in this community to be given responsibility and the voice to give insight to the county council is an opportunity that should not be overlooked.

"I am fully willing to pour every ounce of my energy and passion into this board so that our community may progress towards one that is more friendly towards teenagers."

"Gathering information is the basis for everything we're doing," MacArthur said, as he invited both teens and adults to get involved in the process and attend Monday's meeting. "We want to make ourselves available to our community and make youth comfortable in coming to us with ideas and concerns. We haven't developed a work plan yet; that's something we'll do collaboratively."

The function of the new board includes reviewing current youth programs and facilities and all youth-related matters submitted to council, as well as providing youth input to staff and council on ways to improve county programs and opportunities. Council approved the board as a seven-member body in October 2006, and terms will run from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

Members must be 15-18 years of age, and be able to volunteer 10 to 15 hours per month.

Applications for membership to the Youth Advisory Board are found on the county website, www.lac-nm.us under Boards and Commissions, Youth Advisory Board.

Call liaison Capt. Kevin Purtyman at 662-8228 for more information.