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New Youth Board head pledges to fill roster Tells Falls Council he hopes state won't withhold $74,000 for staff and programs

The city's new supervisor of golf, recreation and youth services said Wednesday that he will fill the Youth Board with 14 members this week and hopes the state will decide not to withhold about $74,000 in aid for administrative costs and youth programs.

"By the end of the week we'll have this board," said Marc Stott, a former seasonal golf worker who was hired March 19. "Basically I've looked for people I know, like retired teachers and people in the community that have dealt with youth. I'm just going to call them and say, 'Would you be willing to sit on this board?' "

The Youth Board needs 14 members to fulfill its own bylaws and state requirements, according to Brian Marchetti, spokesman for the state Office of Children and Family Services.

That office sanctioned the Youth Board last month because it hasn't garnered enough members or met with a quorum in over two years. Marchetti said if the board does not correct those issues the city won't receive $44,000 in administrative reimbursement or an additional $30,000 for youth programs already allocated to three local nonprofit organizations.

The deficiencies were first identified by the Office of Children and Family Services during a December 2005 monitoring visit. Mario Tonellato, the former associate director of the Youth Services Division, said this week he had been working to correct them before his position was cut from the city budget.

Tonellato said he was able to build up the board from one or two members when he took over in 2003 to seven members in 2005. He said it was difficult to find people willing to volunteer for the board who could serve in conformity with conflict-of-interest rules.

Stott was hired last month to fill the newly created full-time position called "golf/recreation/youth services specialist," which Councilman Chris A. Robins spearheaded. It includes many of Tonellato's former duties, and those of the former greenskeeper, whose position was also cut.

The job hasn't yet been approved by the city's Civil Service Commission or the Office of Children and Family Services.

Stott, 24, said he has been a seasonal worker at the golf course for 10 years and earned a bachelor's degree from Niagara University in political science and criminal justice.

He said he plans to read the bylaws of the Youth Board and tackle the paperwork involved with running the Youth Bureau this week. He said Wednesday that he hadn't talked to any members or former members of the Youth Board.

"I'm talking to a lot of people throughout the community to get a feel for what needs to be done throughout the summer and improve the needs for community activities for the youth of the community," Stott said.

Meanwhile, there's been much finger pointing at City Hall over who dropped the ball on getting the Youth Board filled.

Council members said they were dumbfounded when they learned the board had not been functioning for two years, and said they were never told of the problem.

Tonellato said the Council never responded when he recommended two names for the board in April 2005 or when he mentioned to a couple Council members that there was a need for members on the board.

Appointments to the Youth Board must be made by the Council, and Anello said the Council should have known that.

The mayor received two warning letters from the state about the Youth Board this year but did not pass them on to the Council.

Stott said anyone interested in serving on the Youth Board can call 286-4940 or 297-2067.

e-mail: gfranklin@buffnews.com

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