Immediate Release

Tuesday, September 4, 2007 

For Information Contact

David Mathis

Safe Streets Program Honors Picente, Legislators for Providing Utica Youth
With Recreation, Activities

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. and several members of the Oneida County Board of Legislators today were honored for their support of the Safe Streets Program in Utica , which promotes positive youth activities and discourage gang activity.

Retiring Oneida County Board of Legislators Minority Leader Harry Hertline, a strong Safe Streets supporter, was honored as were Legislator Rose Ann Convertino of Utica , Legislature Chairman Gerald Fiorini and Legislator William Hendricks of Utica , the program’s prime County supporter.

“Safe Streets is a pro-active investment in the youth of the community,” said David Mathis, Director of the Office of Workforce Development and the program’s liaison with County Government .  “Safe Streets helps the young people of Cornhill not only find alternatives to unhealthy activities, but also helps them grow by increasing their self-esteem and by providing a structured, supportive environment.”

“Young people want and need activities in the hot summer months that can provide an outlet for their energy,” Picente said. “The Safe Streets Program is a proven project that offers outstanding recreational opportunities in a controlled environment that not only provides an opportunity for recreation, but enforces anger management concepts to provide a balanced program that helps young people.”

Safe Streets offers a recreation-based program that weaves anger management, diversity training and teamwork into its programming. Programming was offered weeknights at the Steuben Street Park adjacent to the Martin Luther King Dreams Park .

“Recreational programming goes a lot deeper than just sports,” said Hendricks. “Teamwork and tolerance are vital lessons that come through the project’s recreational activities. These kids learn that if you can’t get along with your teammates, if you can’t follow the rules, that you pay a penalty. That’s an important lesson to learn. I want to thank County Executive Picente and my fellow Legislators for their support of this program. Through their efforts, Oneida County is making a difference in the lives of these youth.”  

Picente noted that Safe Streets is the type of activity needed to provide an alternative to gang participation.

“One of the basic steps in addressing gangs is to provide alternatives, and we are doing that,” Picente said. “When there is nothing to do, young people find something to do, and it may not be what is in their best interests. Through Safe Streets, they can have a good time, stay away from the gangs and have a positive alternative to hanging out.”

Chairman Fiorini said: “The Safe Streets Program helps provide a great outlet for the energy that young people have, while also providing a structured, safe environment. Safe Streets is a project that has proven its worth, and the Board is proud to support it.”

Minority Leader Hertline said: “The youth of West Utica need increased recreational opportunities. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders, and we need to work with them to help provide activities and programs that will offer supports to help them develop their full potential. I am proud to have supported this program to fill a community need.”

            Legislator Convertino said: “Programs that offer activities for young people are an investment in the future of our community. Safe Streets is just one part of our investment in the youth of Utica .”