Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
July 8, 2021
With strong backing from Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Bradley Bean, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) agreed unanimously to re-establish the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) during the July 6, 2021 Regular FBCC Meeting. The enabling Resolution (2021-101) charges the Committee to provide input and recommendations to the City Commission. The Committee will be open to up to five (5) members in grades 9-12. Students interested in serving on the Committee should apply to the City Clerk’s Office.
The City Commission designated Commissioner Bean to serve as a liaison to the Committee, He will assist with the administration and management of the Committee (including promotion, publicity, agenda preparation, etc.). The Information Technology Department will provide additional staff support for the Committee.
In April 2015, the City Commission by created a Youth Advisory Committee to give student leaders a voice in City of Fernandina Beach government and to give the City Commissioners the benefit of student input. The committee, under the mentorship of then-Mayor Robin Lentz, was sunset in 2017 when student schedules and after school activities created difficulties in assembling meeting quorums.
This time, Commissioner Bean believes, will be different, due in large part to the organizing efforts of student leader Ty Boston. Boston, a Senior at Fernandina Beach High School addressed the FBCC prior to their vote.
In addressing the FBCC, Boston said that his goal is to get the city’s youth more involved with the community. He said that there are 1500 city residents under the age of 18. He claimed that the city offers very little for them and other youth who visit the city, adding that most special events and activities are targeted at older audiences.
Boston told Commissioners, “As a high school senior I can confidently say that more than 20 percent of students vape on a daily basis, not to mention that half of them have tried it at one point or another. There is also a lot of drug usage among my age group, and don’t get me started on the alcohol issue. These citizens are turning to vaping, drugs and alcohol because what else is there for them to do?”
Boston said his goal is to get students more involved in activities like Sounds On Centre, Shrimp and Pride festivals. He expressed his strong desire to open more opportunities for the city’s youth.
Commissioner Chip Ross asked what measures have been taken to address the issues that caused the demise of the 2016 YAC and how the new one will be different.
Commissioner Bean explained that the ages of the students on the new YAC will be staggered, so that they won’t all graduate at the same time, thereby insuring continuity. “When everybody graduated at once, we no longer had a committee,” Bean said. He thanked Boston saying, “I’m looking forward to the good work they are going to do.”
Vice Mayor Len Kreger complimented Boston for driving the project. “The kids are going to make the difference.”
Commissioner David Sturges complimented Bean for raising the idea. “With the right leadership and the right kids, I think they will do great things,” he said.