City considering disbanding youth board, disability committee

Mayor says lack of interest, inactivity led to recommendation

Shawano officials will consider disbanding the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board and People with a Disability Committee when the Common Council meets for its reorganizational meeting Tuesday.

Mayor Ed Whealon said he was making the recommendation after consulting with city staff.

He said there has been a lack of interest among people who have been sought to serve on the youth board and the disability committee.

It has also been some time since either have been active.

According to records available on the city’s website, the People with a Disability Committee’s last meeting was June 5 of last year.

The agenda shows that the only action taken was the election of officers.

The website has no record of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board, which, Whealon said, has not met in a couple of years.

Both the youth board and the disability committee were established during the tenure of former mayor Lorna Marquardt, who left office in April 2016.

“I thought they were two sectors of the community that weren’t as well-represented as I thought they should be,” Marquardt said in an interview prior to her departure in 2016.

But, according to Whealon, activity by the board and the committee have since languished and finding people willing to serve on them has been a problem.

“There’s just no interest,” Whealon said.

He said he reached out to Shawano High School and spoke to a couple of the teachers about filling the youth board seats.

“The kids just don’t want to do it,” Whealon said. “When Lorna was mayor, she had quite a few kids that would apply for it. Now, it’s hard to drum up any interest with the kids.”

Whealon said the youth board met “once in a while” to discuss issues in the community that affect the youth.

“They were involved in the skateboard park, but they weren’t the deciding factor,” he said.

Whealon said the board would bring ideas to the city that were generally referred to some other commission or committee.

Whealon said the disability committee had been involved in such things as making city street crossings more handicapped-accessible.

However, he said, “a lot of the stuff we were already doing.”

Whealon also said that as disability issues come up, they can be addressed by other standing committees, such as the field committee or park and recreation commission.

Whealon said he is not opposed to keeping the youth board and disability committee.

“I’m not against having it. There just hasn’t been any interest,” he said.

Finding willing members to serve on city boards and commissions is apparently not limited to the youth board or the disability committee, according to Whealon.

“It’s harder and harder to get people to serve on these boards,” he said. “I’ve got open positions on boards. I ask people to serve on them and they just don’t want to spend the time or do it.”

Some boards are easier to fill than others, Whealon said, with the parks and recreation commission among the easiest.

The city has 18 boards, committees and commissions, not including the standing committees that are filled by city council members.

Whealon will nominate 21 names to those various entities at Tuesday’s reorganizational meeting, all but two of them current members being reappointed to another term.

Three others still need to be filled, including one seat each on the board of appeals, board of review and the plan commission.

Whealon said he’s waiting to hear back from a couple of people who could fill those positions.

As for the youth board and disability committee, Whealon said he will go with whatever the Common Council decides.

“If council feels we should keep them, then we’ll keep them,” he said.

The council’s reorganizational meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 127 S. Sawyer St.