Our Views: Teen center deserves support from Edgerton

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

As residents in many Midwestern communities know, teen centers too often come and go.

They’re generally good ideas. They require, however, fresh infusions of money and dedicated volunteers to keep their doors open. They also need support from teens.

Here’s hoping cash and help keep flowing toward the Edgerton Teen Center and teens keep showing up.

The nonprofit center, with a new name and new home, has been revamped at 204 W. Fulton St. A center formerly known as the Non-Toxic Teen Center operated in Edgerton for almost 20 years, most recently in rented space at 512 N. Main St. When the lease ran out in December 2011, leaders decided to buy the visible vacant downtown building on Fulton Street. The three-story building once housed general and department stores. Its upstairs dance hall and theater once lured tobacco barons. Months of renovations to the 4,000-square-foot space have readied the center for teenage fun and games.

The city council approved $12,000 worth of grants, but a team of 40 volunteers hammered out improvements estimated at $50,000. The teen center now has a snack lounge and two main areas. One side features a dance area complete with stage where teen bands will be invited to perform. The other side has pool tables, air hockey and auto-racing simulators.

For now, the Edgerton Teen Center will be open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Director Dave Flood says officials are seeking grants and donations in hopes the center also could be open after school. That, he figured, could cost an extra $200 in utilities per month.

Every community in the Midwest has problems with underage drinking and other risky behaviors among teens and young adults. Surveys have shown that the percentage of underage drinkers in Edgerton is higher than typical in Rock County.

An inviting, attractive place to go such as a teen center can keep kids out of mischief and give them something constructive, productive and positive to do. The Edgerton Teen Center has been an ambitious but worthy project. Organizers deserve applause, support and the best of luck.

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