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Youth Center in Howard Lake open for fall session

October 22, 2007

A safe place for area youth to go to relax, have fun, and even get study help

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

Having fun on a Saturday night remains a popular activity at the Howard Lake Youth Center.

The youth center has moved from the upstairs area of the historic city hall to the upper level of the old Methodist church building.

After the Methodist church closed, the Howard Lake Lions acquired the building, and make use of it for many purposes.

Now that the youth center is no longer located right on a very busy highway (Highway 12), youth center organizers have witnessed more kids biking and walking to the center than before.

Cathy Rufer and Susie Grangroth have been running the youth center for more than 10 years, and the Lions started the youth center more than 20 years ago.

Numerous area businesses and organizations, as well as parent volunteers have donated time, money, and equipment for the youth center, according to Rufer.

“It’s a safe, drug-free program, and we’re always looking for more kids to join,” Rufer said.

Kids in fourth grade and up are welcome, and younger kids can enjoy the youth center if accompanied by an older sibling or a parent.

Because of the wide array of games, activities, and the large screen TV, the youth center has been attracting families.

“It’s gone from a teen center to a family center. Parents often come with their children and play with them,” Rufer said.

Kids can also get homework help at the youth center.

“It’s all about the kids. That’s why we do what we do,” Grangroth said.

“We’ve even had people come visit the youth center that have been out of school for many, many years – it’s really neat,” Grangroth added.

The ultimate goal of the youth center is to be open a couple nights per week in addition to Saturday nights. “We’d like it to become their club – take care of it – give it a name,” Rufer explained.

For now, the club is open the Saturdays of Oct. 27, Nov. 3, 17, and Dec. 1, 15 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Admission is $2 per night, but no one will be turned away if they can’t pay the fee.

A Halloween party will take place at the youth center Saturday, Oct. 27 from 5-9 p.m. Admission is $2. Bernatellos’ pizza will be provided, but bring extra money for additional pop, candy, and games. A costume contest is planned with four judging categories which are fairy-tale, futuristic, modern day, and cartoon character.