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Oak Harbor contracts for youth services

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oak Harbor got a job working for the city.

Tuesday, the Oak Harbor City Council approved an 18-month, $21,600 agreement with the volunteer program to provide advisory services and conduct research to determine what youth programs may be missing, but needed, in the community.

City Administrator Paul Schmidt explained that the organization will provide advisory services to the Oak Harbor Youth Council, further developing the council into a resource group for youth from middle school through high school age. Also, the group will spend a year researching where the holes are in services for kids in the community.

“We’ll use the rest of the six months to digest the information and see how we wish to proceed from there,” Schmidt said.

It’s definitely a good deal for the city. The Big Brothers Big Sisters will do basically the same work that the city’s former youth coordinator did, but that position cost the city more than $40,000 a year plus benefits.

The former youth services coordinator was fired more than a year ago over concerns about how she handled grant money and that she wasn’t fulfilling the job description. Some council members were angry that the city administration provided little oversight of the new position.

Schmidt thanked a long list of people for helping to make the new agreement happen, but noticeably missing from the list was Councilman Eric Gerber. He was the one who came up with the idea of a youth services program and pushed it through, despite reluctance from other city leaders.

The new agreement, however, may be a better way to do the program. Schmidt pointed out that the 18-month term of the agreement with Big Brothers Big Sisters allows both entities time for a review of the work arrangement and outcome before any long-term commitments are made.

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