By STEVEN NALLEY
The Mayor’s Youth Council will join Mayor Parker Wiseman this Monday at the Mississippi Municipal League’s 80th annual conference in Biloxi, participating in a youth track designed to build character and civic involvement.
Wiseman said the youth council delegated six of its 25 members to attend the conference. He said the youth track was an important team-building exercise for the youth council.
“They will engage in community service projects, leadership training and some idea exchange about what’s going on in the other youth councils throughout the state,” Wiseman said. “It is my hope that this will be a gratifying experience for them and give them some ideas for service opportunities here at home.”
The program for the MML conference calls for the youth to hear a presentation on the mayoral election process and municipal government from Belzoni Mayor Wardell Walton, Forest Alderwoman Cynthia Melton, and Natchez City Clerk Donnie Holloway.
They will also engage in a mock board meeting and enjoy a reception on the beach.
Like the youth, Wiseman said he himself, along with other municipal representatives at the conference, will have learning opportunities. The conference features a series of classes to help elected officials become more effective, Wiseman said.
“Our curriculum ranges from economic development to budgeting and finance and planning and land use,” Wiseman said. “We’ll be learning about what’s going on elsewhere in the world of municipal government and gaining insight on how to improve municipal government at home.”
With both Wiseman and the youth council busy with their own curricula, Wiseman said he won’t be meeting with the youth council much during the conference.
“We will interact some, but for the most part, we will be in separate programs while we’re there,” Wiseman said. “We will have our own day full of activities, while the municipal leaders have their own activities as well.”
Wiseman said this year’s youth council has accomplished a great deal, establishing an active relationship with the Board of Aldermen.
One of their major accomplishments, he said, was earning a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for a job training program they established in conjunction with East Mississippi Community College.
To earn the grant, he said, they had to attend a one-day workshop and make written and oral presentations of their project proposal in Tupelo.
“We got excellent feedback from the organizers of the event in Tupelo,” Wiseman said. “The grant that they were awarded is not a grant program that’s designed for youth programs specifically. I’ve been blown away by the success of the program. The kids have been an absolute joy to work with, and it’s wonderful to see the youth perspective that they offer our government.”