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Teenager chairs Carnegie Building Committee

A teenager is guiding the direction for a historic downtown building.

Nick Young, 17, not only serves on the Carnegie Building Committee, he's the chairman.

Young confesses that sometimes he has to be nudged by fellow members to start the meeting because he forgets he's running it.

I'm not used to being chair yet, said the North Medford High School senior, who is in his third year on the Mayor's Youth Advisory Commission.

— While the commission often has representatives who attend committee meetings, this is the first time a teenager has been appointed chairperson, according to city staff.

Debating the fate of the soon-to-be-vacated 1912 library building has special meaning for Young.

My grandma brought me here a lot to check out books in the children's section, he said.

Young said he considers his grandmother, Jean McLaren of Rogue River, to be his inspiration.

She really felt that it was good for me to be involved in community projects, he said.

Young lives with his father, Robert Young of Medford. His mother, Lyndell Smothers, lives in Central Point.

He said involvement in local government has pushed him to grow.

He had joined the Carnegie Building Committee as one of two teen liaisons to the group, formed several months ago, when it was time to choose a chairman.

When no one else jumped at the chance to lead the group, Young volunteered.

When you're outside of your comfort zone you tend to be a little more creative, he said.

While he has not yet chosen a college, Young said he aspires to major in political science.

I think the coolest thing about politics is anyone can have their voice heard, he said.

City Council member Ed Chun, who serves as council liaison to the youth commission, said Young's drive makes him stand out.

From day one he's been very involved and very focused on being a leader, he said.

Chun said he's hopeful about the future of local government with people like Young involved.

Staff liaison Lynette O'Neal agreed that Young is a unique teenager.

He's concerned with community issues, and he's proactive, she said. A lot of kids are afraid to say what their concerns are.

Young said he'd like to see more of his peers speak out.

For some reason kids don't want to get involved, said Young.

One of Young's pet issues is that he thinks schools need more traffic speed-display signs.

He said he knows firsthand that crossing a busy street to get to school can be a challenge, and he suspects many drivers are not aware they're exceeding the speed limit.

He said working on the sign project has taught him that getting government approval takes perseverance.

There's quite a bit of red tape to cut through, he said.

He said he respects the system and the opinion of council members, however.

If they don't think it's worthwhile, I don't want them to spend taxpayers' money, he said.

In all, he puts about eight hours per month into city government, Young estimates.

When he's not chairing meetings, he likes listening to music ' ranging from jazz to hip hop ' golfing with his dad and attending activities with the Central Point Assembly of God youth group.

Two summers ago I had the opportunity to intern with (Medford Rep.) Rob Patridge, he said. He made phone calls and put up lawn signs, and found the process exciting.

That was the first time that I was able to work with a political figure, he said.

Young said it's too soon to say what his own political ambitions are.

I'm just going to let God take me where he wants me to be, he said.

As for the future of the Carnegie building, which will be vacated this fall when the library moves to its new digs on Central Avenue, Young said he favors having a space for art and/or historical exhibits or housing the Southern Oregon Historical Society offices and archives.

I didn't want to see it as a teen center, he said. I wouldn't want to see the building get ruined.

I'd like to see it restored so it looks pretty again, he said.

The next Carnegie building committee meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 15 in the Alba Room at City Hall, 411 W. Main St., Medford.

To comment on the future of the building, call the mayor's office at 774-2000 or e-mail the City Council at cnclmed@ci.medford.or.us.

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Mayor's Youth Advisory group has openings

Applications are being accepted for positions on the Mayor's Youth Advisory Commission.

The commission consists of 15 representatives from area high schools. Members are appointed by Medford's mayor and serve as an advisory group to the City Council on matters concerning youth and youth activities.

The commission's purpose is to help find constructive activities for teens, to aid in solving problems concerning teens and to find ways to get students involved in the community.

The positions are open to students at North or South Medford high schools, St. Mary's School, Cascade Christian High School or Phoenix High School.

For more information, contact City Hall at 774-2000, or visit the city's Web site at .

The application deadline is Sept. 12.

Nick Young, 17, heads up the Carnegie Building Committee for the city of Medford. The commission will determine how to use the city?s Carnegie library building when the library moves to a new space this fall. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell