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September 22, 2017

9/6/2017 1:30:00 PM
Youngsters could lead charge
Brooke Bechen
Reporter/News and Features

Although I am nearing 30 years of age (gulp), I still like to consider myself a "youngster" amongst others in the Dodgeville community. I find myself thinking "I'm the youngest person here" at county board meetings and other events, but have yet to find the reason why youngsters like myself aren't attending.
A couple Thursday evenings ago, I found myself the youngest person in attendance at the final Community Discussion meeting for the City of Dodgeville at the Red Room. The last discussion included the exchange of several ideas, and although many of them were great ideas, I found myself wondering again...where are all the "youngsters?" And why aren't they here?
Provided at the final meeting were preliminary results from the Dodgeville Community Survey, recently mailed to all residents in Dodgeville and available online through October. I encourage all Dodgeville residents, especially young people in the City, to share their thoughts and complete the survey, which only takes a couple minutes.
The preliminary results included answers from 303 people that had taken the survey July 17-August 24. About 85% of respondents did not attend any of the Community Discussion meetings; about 87% of respondents live in the City of Dodgeville.
About 15% of respondents fell in my "youngster" age group - between 18-34. Another 15% listed 35-44 years of age. About 33% of respondents were 65 years old and above.
The final, open ended question on the survey asked respondents to add comments, questions or concerns. There were many listed - some humorous, some serious - but all were very telling. There were older folks concerned about high taxes in the City; others complained about the state of the streets. Several shared concerns about some city streets not having sidewalks and how it affects safety. Below are some of the answers that spoke to the "youngster" in me:
"There should be more activities and events catered to families with children. They city also needs some kind of event that gets 'new' people to the area involved so they can meet people. I've lived in this city for over 13 years and it's so clicky."
"What is the city doing to attract younger people who want to start a family here? There are no adult recreation opportunities, festivals or events. Why do people live in Madison and not here?"
"Compared to other communities, I don't feel we offer many activities for people with young families. We have considered moving to communities that do."
"I really want to see Dodgeville thrive, and the only way to do so is to get more middle class tax payers to move to this area. If things do not change, Dodgeville will continue to have younger and middle aged people moving out of this area...if you want younger middle class tax payers moving to the area, then entice them with amenities that would keep them around!"
"I'm concerned that the town doesn't have much to offer young people and in order to grow and develop, we need young people."
Another question on the survey asked respondents if they have interests or skills that could be shared with the community. There were many interesting ones, including a feature film editor, a chess player, a skilled teacher, a structural engineer, an artist, skills in web and graphic design, knowledge about outdoor lighting and astronomy, bookkeeping, interests in fine arts, handyman skills and wildlife biology.
We have a really diverse and interesting population in the City of Dodgeville - maybe it's time we used our skills collectively. And maybe youngsters should be the ones to lead this charge.

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