City Council support expands youth work program

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Plant A Seed, a city program designed to blend mentorship with summer employment and job skills, will grow a little more.
With the majority of the Tupelo City Council approving this week a budget amendment to add $12,000 to the program, which will expand the work program by 10 slots to allow 35 students participate this summer.
Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings led the effort two years ago to create the city program. He said he wanted the city to do more to mentor youth in Tupelo.
Students hired through the program work in many departments throughout the city, helping students contribute to the community while earning summer cash.
“We need to do things like this to support youth in the community,” Jennings said.
Originally budgeted at $35,000 in 2011, the program has been budgeted at $30,000 in 2012 and this year. The city’s human resources department manages the program, which had more than 100 youths interview this year.
Two council members, Jim Newell of Ward 3 and Mike Bryan of Ward 6, opposed the additional funding for the program.
“It was an unbudgeted item,” Newell said. “If it could have been absorbed through the regular budget, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it.”
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said he supports the youth program that provides summer work.
“The city should set an example of trying to give jobs to young people who want them,” he said.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com