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Mayor's Youth Summit Encourages Lawton Teens to Stay

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LAWTON Okla_ Lawton Mayor Fred Fitch said too many kids are growing up and moving away from the area, and he wants to change that.

Today, more than 200 young people gathered at Cameron University to create a vision for change in Lawton. It's called the Mayor's Youth Summit and it was the final installment of four that Mayor Fitch has held in order to get community input.

The city will take the input from all 4 forums and use it to create a different kind of CIP, or capital improvement program, for the future. Mayor Fitch said he wants support for that to be headed up by the next generation.

Many of Lawton's brightest youth, like Alex Cox, have plans too big to stay home.

"I am looking at majoring in engineering," Cox said. "There are not really many jobs in the engineering field."

Junior Caleb Sleet said it's not just about the jobs, though. It's also about crime and the overall "look" of Lawton.

"It's about a cleaner city," Sleet said. "When you go down Cache Road and Gore Boulevard, it doesn't seem clean."

They both agree that Lawton is boring.

"There's not much to do here for the kids," Sleet said.

Mayor Fitch wants to change the kids' minds before they leave. To do that, he has to deviate from the normal "Under the Ground CIP".

"We need something that is above the ground that people can touch feel and utilize," Fitch said. "We need to have things in this community that are better for the quality of life."

Mayor Fitch said he is determined to stay on top of the problem until it's fixed. He said one possible way of doing that is breaking ground on more retail areas in the community. Not only will that provide more jobs for people, it will provide things like more money.

"So, we will keep those tax dollars here," Fitch said. "It will give us more in our operating budget to do more things for the quality of life in this community."

Depending on the feedback, he said improvements could also include more restaurants and things to do, better parks, and opportunities for better paying jobs with an emphasis on building businesses. He said that would make for a happier next generation.

"I like shopping so retail is good," Sleet said.

"If I could have a career here, then that would change my mind a lot," Cox said.

Mayor Fitch said the summits have been very informative and helpful. He said interestingly enough, most of the groups he has talked to are on the same page and want to see similar changes in Lawton.

 

 

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