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April 9, 2013

Good day for government

Logansport High School students got a firsthand experience of local democracy, policy, enforcement and protection Monday as they shadowed city officials for the 55th annual Good Government Day.

Logansport’s Mayor Ted Franklin, Clerk-Treasurer Carol Sue Hayworth and Councilmen Charlie Hastings, Bob Bishop and Joe Buck guided the students through a mock city council meeting, which included electing the chairs of committees and voting on ordinances and resolutions. After hearing from city officials representing their own departments or playing the part of a citizen attempting to sway their opinions, the council of apprentices weighed each measure before calling for a vote. The students addressed both recent and upcoming issues city council faces, including the appropriation of funds to replace the Steinman Field bleachers, an ordinance establishing a fee for rental property inspections, an ordinance that would enforce the prevention of people parking cars on their lawns and the initiative the city started considering recently that would change downtown E. Market Street and E. Broadway into two-way streets.

Luke Jackson, a senior at Logansport High School, served as mayor during the mock council session and shadowed Franklin for part of the day.

“It was really overwhelming, but in a good way,” Jackson said. “They held my hand a lot, which made it easier.”

Jackson praised the event for its ability to educate himself and his peers in a way classrooms could not.

“You learn a lot more when you’re actually in the building rather than reading about it on paper,” he said.

Dan Williams, the city’s superintendent of public works, mentored Monce Alvarez, a junior at Logansport High. Together they went to the city’s compost site where trees were being ground into mulch, helped patch streets, dug a grave and assisted with the closing of part of a street where construction is set to begin on a utilities project.

While Alvarez doesn’t desire a career in public office, she still found the experience educational, she said.

“It was nice driving around and seeing what Dan does,” Alvarez said, adding she particularly enjoyed riding high up in the street department’s snowplow.

Williams said he felt the program is important because it encourages young people to become more aware and involved in the community.

“A lot of people have no idea what we do,” Williams said. “They got to see what we’re doing firsthand. When they’re that age, when they’re first becoming able to vote, I think this really opens them up to see why their vote matters.”

After the mock city council meeting had adjourned, the students’ mentors for the day gave their own take on the issues faced by and facing city council, emphasizing that they may not always make everyone happy but that their ultimate motive is to improve the city as much as possible.

“By the time you guys get out of college, this will be the kind of town you’ll want to return to,” Buck said.

Jackson, sitting in the mayor’s seat in the city council chambers, shared Buck’s optimism.

“Logansport is already a place I want to return to,” he said. “It can only get better.”

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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