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City boosts summer rec funding

Summer recreation students learn about fish at the Izaak Walton League site last August. Red Wing YMCA Youth Development Director Josh Thygesen said the program has expanded in recent years to include enrichment, more field trips and other offerings. (Republican Eagle file photo)

The city will contribute $7,500 more than planned to the Red Wing YMCA’s summer recreation program this year to keep the growing program strong.

Red Wing YMCA Youth Development Director Josh Thygesen asked the council to consider upping its funding from $5,000 to $12,500 for 2014, which it approved.

Last year the program got a $20,000 grant from General Mills, but later found out it was one-time money that it wasn’t eligible for this year, Thygesen said.

That money helped curb the costs for program participants while the program improved, Thygesen said, and getting funding back up this year will allow the YMCA to offer a similar program to last summer’s at roughly the same price range.

“We want to try to keep those costs for the students as low as we can,” he said.

The program has made strides in recent years and now includes enrichment, field trips and a longer run time, Thygesen said. More participants are signing up each year for the program and trips.

“We got a lot of momentum going and we want to see that continue,” Thygesen said.

Council member Ralph Rauterkus, who encouraged the YMCA to bring the request to the city, said the grant information came after the budget was formed for this year.

“Twenty thousand is a huge number for this program,” Rauterkus said. “I thought it was important to bring this forward.”

Before Monday’s meeting, the program had secured the original $5,000 from the city and $10,000 from Treasure Island, Thygesen said.

He said once the funding is hashed out they can set the program fee and get information out to potential participants.

Thygesen said the plans for this year again include enrichment activities — such as cooking, water safety and work with ArtReach — and many field trips along with park time for a total of 123 hours of programming.

“It’s a lot of time we’re with these kids during the summer and we feel it makes a huge difference in the success of those children during the summer and into the school year next year,” he said.

Council President Lisa Bayley said the city’s funding could possibly be increased in the future as well, though if the program continues to expand there should be a funding plan in place.

Council members agreed Monday night to up the city’s piece of the funding for this year.

“I’m frankly embarrassed by how little we’ve been contributing to the summer recreation program,” Council member Peggy Rehder said.

The extra money this year will come from the general contingency fund.

Council member Marilyn Meinke recused herself from the vote, and Council member Jason Sebion was absent from the meeting.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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