The Concerned Citizens of Columbia County held an open monthly meeting last week to discuss a petition for a proposed youth center to be added to the Eubank-Blanchard Community Center.
"We are going to work for this center," said Oscar Taylor, the organization chairman, to the group of members and general public at the meeting. "It is not going to happen overnight. But we have got to work for it and be consistent."
The organization says that children in the western part of the county have no place of their own to go after school or in the summer. With no place to go, many times they get into trouble.
The petition asks for a youth center and some type of playing field to be added on to the 20-plus county-owned acres that surround the existing community center on the corner of Ray Owens and Cobbham roads.
Currently, the organization is getting county residents to sign a petition to support the project. When petitions are completed, they will be taken to the county Board of Commissioners to show that residents care about their children, Taylor said.
Margaret Adams, of the county juvenile court system, attended the meeting offering her support to the project.
"We need to come up with programs to keep kids out of juvenile court," Adams said. "It takes a village to raise kids. Parents cannot do it alone these days. It takes everybody.
"I lend my support personally to anything to get kids attention and strengthen them."
Since talking the idea over with as many people as possible, Taylor received calls from Shirley Williamson, county 4-H and youth extension agent, offering her support and program ideas, as well as the Family Y, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and District 5 Commissioner Dianne Ford.
"When you get that kind of support, it makes you feel like you are doing something worthwhile," Taylor said.
The organization began in January 2001 with the goal of bettering the county and county growth, and keeping citizens informed of issues concerning the welfare of county communities.
The group has successfully requested road pavings in rural parts of the county, donated money to the medical bills of kidney-surgery patient Betty Marshall, set up neighborhood crime watches and donated fans to elderly in the area for the summer.
Currently, they are working on a county waterline for Eubank and regularly visit residents of Lake Crossing Health Center in Appling, singing and praying with the residents and sometimes taking them to local churches for services.
"We pray and sing with them and lift their spirits at least once a month," Taylor said. "They are so happy to see us come."
The group focuses on major projects in the county, and concerns of residents down to mowing the yard of someone who cannot.
"If we can help somebody, we will do it. We do not care what it is," Taylor said. "We cannot do it all, but we can try."
The group normally meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at either Walnut Grove Baptist Church or Second Mount Carmel Baptist Church. The next meeting has not yet been set as Taylor is trying to get Ford and sheriff's office representatives to attend.
"We are really grounded," Taylor said. "We are not political. We are not running for office. We are just trying to do things in the community, hopefully good."
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