Participating in the political process

Manistee City Council member Bob Hornkohl paid a visit to Jefferson Elementary first graders on Monday to talk about an ice skating rink in the City of Manistee.

Manistee City Council member Bob Hornkohl paid a visit to Jefferson Elementary first graders on Monday to talk about an ice skating rink in the City of Manistee.

Jefferson Elementary first graders interact with Manistee City Council member

MANISTEE — First graders at Jefferson Elementary had a chance to participate in the democratic process on Monday, and used their opportunity to voice their opinions to Manistee City Council member Bob Hornkohl.

Deb Erdman taught her class to write opinion letters, and the class chose to write about the prospect of ice skating in Manistee. Hornkohl visited the class on Monday to discuss the issue.

“It’s very important for the kids to know that they have a voice,” Erdman said. “Nothing may come of it, but if it does, then they know that they were part of it.”

Hornkohl told the class that city officials are working with volunteers to open a rink for next winter.

“Hopefully, by this time next year, we will be able to find an ice skating rink so you boys and girls can go up and ice skate whenever you want,” he said.

Hornkohl told the students that there has traditionally been an ice skating rink in Manistee near the teen center, but warmer weather over the last two winters have prohibited it. He said that money and limited manpower have also restricted the ability of the City of Manistee to provide an ice rink, and the city hopes to work with Adopt-a-Park volunteers in future maintenance of an ice skating rink.

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Jefferson Elementary first grade teacher Deb Erdman highlights some of her students’ opinions about why there should be an ice skating rink in Manistee.

He added that there is no age limit to forming opinions.

“When you get older, you’re going to learn that your opinions are very important to the city,” Hornkohl said. “Even at your age now, they’re very important because you’re going to be the future.”

The lesson also taught the students how to interact with public officials, Erdman said.

“(The students know) to come across calmly, state your reasons, do a little research ahead of time, and hopefully when you present something to the city council it sounds more reasonable,” she said. “We know we can’t just storm in there and get our way.”

A meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. today at the Manistee County Teen Center to further discuss the issue. Hornkohl said the city will likely apply for a Local Revenue Sharing Board grant for a large plastic tarp that would hold water for the ice rink.

“We’re all missing the ice skating rink,” he said. “When I was your age, we used to have an ice skating rink every winter, and I used it a lot.”

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Posted by Eric Sagonowsky

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