Cheri Shelhart, Monticello Herald Journal

MONTICELLO — At the Monday evening meeting of the Monticello City Council, board members heard from the Mayor’s Youth Council, which renamed itself the Next Generation Youth Advocates. The group of students from Twin Lakes High School has been raising funds for a beautification project for the shopping concourse by the Twin Lakes Cinema and other businesses.

After the group introduced themselves to the council, the president of the youth advocates, Maya McCarty, spoke about the process and their plans for the funds they’ve raised. Through Patronicity, a crowdfunding program offered through the State of Indiana, the group was able to raise over $10,000 (their goal) and will receive a matching grant from the “My Community My Vision” program.

“We hope to make it a safer and cleaner place because people walk through there and we wanted it to look nice,” McCarty said. “That’s some place we all remember walking through as a kid. We want to give it more visual appeal and less dirtiness.”

She explained they want to also paint a mural on the theater’s wall to add to the appeal. They will be starting on the project soon, with plans to have the mural, which will be done by the high school’s art department, begun before the Spirit of Monticello Festival in June.

Councilman Ken Houston told the students he was excited about the project. He said they had tried a similar project before and “weren’t very successful.”

“I’m very proud of you,” he told them.

Mayor Cathy Gross said they had raised more than $25,000 at last count. “A true example of public-private partnerships, and honestly without your sponsor, none of this would have happened.” She and the room applauded teacher Carol Conrad, the group’s sponsor. Gross said she was very proud of the students as well.

Before the meeting adjourned, Clerk/Treasurer Jim Mann announced a check for the campaign had arrived that day, adding another $500 to their funds.

The advocacy group was chosen by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), which administers the grant program with CreatINg Places. The program connects high school students across the state to each other, their towns and community.

The student youth advocates in attendance were McCarty, Elizabeth Castillo – vice president, Louis Montero – treasurer, Angela Montero, Riley Jennings, Katie Keane and Haley Smolek.

SOURCE: Monticello Herald Journal

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