Meridian Star

November 21, 2012

Youth program seeks funding

By Terri Ferguson Smith /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Officials from a program for at-risk youth in Meridian is asking for more help from the city.

    Dr. Leelee Marlow with Weems Community Mental Health Center in Meridian asked the Meridian City Council on Monday for $6,000 to help the Making A Change program with security expenses.

    The program is designed to help students who have been expelled from school and was unveiled last month by city, school, Weems and other officials participating.

    "Once a child is expelled from school, the school is no longer liable for providing services," Marlow said.

    The MAC program is a joint partnership between the Meridian Public School District and the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, Love’s Kitchen, Meridian Community College Workforce Development, Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry, Men for Change, NFusionX, and Weems.

    The aim of the program is to get these youth back in school so they can complete their education.

    George Thomas, president of the Meridian City Council, said he would support giving the program the $6,000 for security, but he questioned at what point people need to start taking responsibility for their own actions.

    "It's a good idea. It's a good program," Thomas said. "When children misbehave by bringing guns to school, I'm not sure it's the community's responsibility to deal with those children. At some point, children and adults have to be responsible for their own actions."

    Marlow said she understood his point, but said the community will have to deal with them one way or the other.

    Councilwoman Mary Perry said she too supports the program.

    "It's giving those children a second chance," Perry said.

    George Dancy, site supervisor, said there are four or five children who have been in the program, which started this semester, who have already been placed back in the school system.

    "They are doing fine," Dancy said.

    As to the request for $6,000, the matter will be placed on the next City Council agenda for consideration.

    Local builder Tim Allred gave the council an update on the progress of the Meridian Law Enforcement Center, which will be at the old Cowboy Maloney building on 22nd Avenue. The building is undergoing extensive renovations to make it suitable for a police station.

    "We're making good progress," Allred said. "The walls are up. The sheet rock walls are nearing completion on the interior."

    The heating and air conditioning systems are in place, and work on the exterior of the building is under way as well, he said.