Crime Fighting Program Facing Possible Cuts

AMARILLO, TEXAS - Justin Johnson grew up playing basketball at the North Branch YMCA.

"They kept me from doing dumb stuff, they kept me off the streets," he said.

The facility is just one of several after school programs mainly funded by a state community youth development grant for the 79107 zip code. This year the budget for those grants hasn't been finalized yet, and it could still be cut.

"If it goes away, a lot of these programs will go away. And that's just the way it is." said Mary Jane Nelson, program assistant director.

Those program directors boast a 99 point 9 percent success rate - meaning out of every 1,000 kids they serve, only one will get in trouble with the law and end up in the juvenile probation system.

"It gives an opportunity for at risk kids to be able to have somewhere to go and programs they can use in their everyday life." advisory board member Bette Bara said.

So to help brace for whatever possible cuts might happen, the group asked community members to join a think tank Tuesday. Instead of money, they're giving ideas.

"We're looking at other funding sources and how could you down size a program to the point where you don't get rid of the program completely," Nelson said.

The group was also asked to identify strengths in the community that could help pick up some of the slack if the programs do have to be cut down. Suggestions ranged from local churches to more partners with the city and schools.

Johnson says all this help from the community lets him know everything's going to be alright. Because best case scenario, the programs aren't cut and all these suggestions can be used to make what's there even stronger.

"I feel a change coming on, a change for the better. I really hope so. A lot of people fighting for it so," he said.

If you have ideas you would like to contribute contact Catherine Meadows at 806-376-6359 x215.