PI takes over youth center – Port Isabel-South Padre Press

By KREIG KOHL
Special PRESS

Announced on August 30, the City of Port Isabel has taken over control and operations of the Laguna Madre Youth Center. The city has had a partnership with the youth center for a few decades at this point, with the city helping to transition it from the Laguna Madre Boys and Girls Club.
The Youth Center Board of Directors approached the city; and, according to Port Isabel City Manager Jared Hockema, “requested that we [the city] take it back so that we can maintain and expand the services provided there. The youth center offered after-school programs ranging from sports to tutoring and ensuring that students in the Point Isabel Independent School District could learn to be responsible members of the community.
Commenting on the importance of the youth center and why the city agreed to take over, Hockema said: “It is a vital service for the community. To have a good community, you have to have a good quality of life, and to have a good quality of life, you have to have things that enrich and enhance people’s well-being and enjoyment. He went on to praise the services offered by the youth center as they enable the community to be productive. “Because parents can take children to the youth center, they can work, earn money and support their families, so it’s an important service for the community,” Hockema explained.
The city plans to retain the programs offered by the center and expand its programs. The city plans to ask the public for their support in the fall 2022 bond election to secure funding for the renovation of the building itself. The building was built in 1996 and has not been renovated for 26 years. Hockema said to that end, “We anticipate that, assuming we get public support, we’ll apply to parks and wildlife, and we’ll invest about two million dollars in the facility, between which we have in the bond election and what we can get out of parks and wildlife.
Hockema also said the city wants to expand the center’s youth offerings to include “more sports-focused programming. Whether it’s a basketball league, things like that, it could work from the youth center to provide more services for the kids.
The youth center is not solely run by Port Isabel, however, as it also receives assistance from South Padre Island and Laguna Vista. Hockema said of their support: “They have continued to be great partners with us. They have already donated money to the youth center and I imagine they will continue.

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