Jr. Leadership learns about government

Mar 21st, 2014

Participants look at how the city, county run

City Councillor Ceil Levatino, District 6, discusses the ins and outs of being a city councillor to the Junior Leadership group in February.Junior Leadership, a program developed by the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, is composed of area high school students who are currently enrolled in their junior year of high school. Participants in this year’s program are students who attend Las Cruces, Mayfield, Centennial, Oñate and Arrowhead Park Early College high schools.

The purpose of the Junior Leadership Program is to show future community leaders what Doña Ana County has to offer and how they can help make changes or imple­ment their ideas to better the city.

In February, Junior Leadership participants had the chance to learn how state and local governments operate within Doña Ana County. The day started at City Hall where City Councillor Ceil Levatino, District 6, told the students that the main ingredient necessary to become a city councillor is “to have passion in what you do.”

Many of the students were unaware local government elected officials are part-time council members and most have full-time employment in Las Cruces. Levatino was quick to add although the job may insinuate “part-time,” she works more than 40 hours a week for the City of Las Cruces, in addition to her full-time career in real estate.

Participants received a full tour of City Hall and learned about the many important behind the scenes positions that help to make the city function. The Junior Leadership Program would like to thank Levatino for her time and in­sight during the tour.

During the middle portion of the day, Mary Jo Apodaca from the Doña Ana County Sherriff ’s Department led an­other tour for the Junior Leadership participants. Students learned about the county’s history while they toured the fa­cility and learned about the different departments within county law enforcement.

The Sherriff ’s K-9 Unit demonstrated its skills by hav­ing the dogs run routine activities to demonstrate how they keep our city safe on a daily basis. The experience was edu­cational and informative and Junior Leadership would like to thank all of the law enforcement individuals for their service to the community and commitment to keeping the county safe.

Next, Jess Williams, director of public information and special projects for Doña Ana County, led a tour of the Doña Ana County Detention Center. It was enlightening to see what an impressive facility it was and the students were amazed at how the center functioned like a small city. From commissary items to be purchased by those incarcer­ated, to the strict daily schedule and calm environment, stu­dents were impacted greatly by the experience.

“I always felt that jail was full of metal bars, dirty floors and a scary place to enter,” one student said. “It was really neat to know how clean it really was and so organized. That said, I never want to visit jail unless it’s on a tour.”

Junior Leadership would like to thank Williams for his time and for sharing information with the group and the Doña Ana County Detention Center staff for allowing participants to tour the facility and for all of their hard work.

The month of March will focus on economic development and the Junior Leadership Class will visit facilities that make an impact on the economic development in the community.