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Youth council seeks leadership

Letter leads to controversy; group has $60 left in fund

Autumn Phillips

— Wednesday night would have brought back bad memories to any adult child of divorced parents.

The teens were in the middle and two “parents” Bea Cole and former Sgt. Dave Miller wanted to know whom they loved the most.

Only three of six members of the South Routt Community Youth Council sat in position at the board table ready to end a controversy that has had adults angry and teens confused since early September.

The trouble started in August, when Mayor Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman walked door to door handing out invitations to teens “to meet with Bea and the Mayor.”

On the night of the meeting, the room was filled with expectant teens, but also with the officers of the youth council who felt adults usurped their power.

Miller, their adviser of three years, was present to stand up for the teens’ right to their own voice in town government.

Cole admitted she had never heard of the youth council but was present only to help the teens set up events that help fight the small-town boredom that kept getting them in trouble.

By the end of the night, the teens had agreed to accept Cole’s help and the sponsorship of Oak Creek. The next day, they opened a bank account using the town’s tax ID number for grant and fund-raising moneys collected over the summer.

A week later, Cole and Rodeman announced a series of events scheduled for the youths through December, each sponsored by a different local business.

In the meantime, tensions were building between the old and new advisers of the group.

When Rodeman left for a vacation to eastern Europe in early September, Miller and the council met and drafted a letter to sever ties with Cole and the mayor.

On Sept. 10, the teens went to the bank with Miller and withdrew 100 percent of their funds, nearly $1,000.

They used the amount as prize money promised to the two participants of a pike fishing tournament the group organized this summer.

Miller said the youths have $60 left.

Beth Berry, 14, is the new chair of the youth council board since Sam Wisecup stepped down after graduating from high school.

“There is a lot of controversy,” she said. “I don’t understand a lot of it, but as the chair I am involved.”

The adults present wanted to debate the letter, dated Sept. 2, that asked for Miller to be reinstated as the group’s adviser.

“We never wanted to cause any of this trouble,” Berry said.

After the youths announced they wanted Miller to be their adviser, several businesses sent letters to Town Hall, saying that they would not be involved with any youth council activities as long as Miller was involved, Rodeman said.

Town Board Trustee J. Elliott asked that a $150 donation made by him to the youth council be held until the issue is resolved.

“It’s not as simple as who their adviser is,” Elliott said. “I just want to make sure the money goes where the kids want it to go.”

“The transfer of advisership became a big issue around town,” Berry said. “I got yelled at by a few family members and close friends because I signed that paper.

“All I want to do is help the youth of this town,” she said. “I got in trouble with the law because I had nothing to do and I want to change that.”

The South Routt Community Youth Council will hold a work session to resolve several issues at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Dinty Moore’s Restaurant on Main Street.


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