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A $10,000 appropriation to the Hollister Recreation Division will bring back a scholarship program that was scrapped in 2007 due to budget cuts. The funding will allow qualifying participants ages 14 and under to participate in rec programs at a free or reduced cost.

Hollister Police Chief David Westrick said the city recreation department’s efforts are part of an overall strategy to provide constructive opportunities for local youth — particularly those who may need intervention but can’t afford the programs. He told the Hollister City Council on Oct. 6 that he hopes grants will eventually help expand and sustain the local Police Activities League.

“Ten to 15 years from now we hope to have a real strong program that will hopefully lower the crime rate due to simple intervention techniques,” such as providing organized activities for young people, he said.

Councilman Raymond Friend asked why the city wasn’t considering putting $10,000 into recreation to help all programs rather than “a few kids,” but City Manager William Avera said the targeted funding would allow the city to monitor the effectiveness of the scholarship program which could aid upcoming efforts to seek grant funding for youth activities.

Recreation Coordinator Tina Garza a said “a majority” of people would meet the scholarship criteria, which have not been available for the past seven years.

“I feel that our programs are very affordable and sustainable,” she said. “This scholarship will give the majority of people the opportunity” to receive either a partial or full scholarship to help offset participation costs.

The scholarship program requires that families participate in at least six hours of community service in order to receive the funding and the participating child must attend a minimum of 80 percent of scheduled practices, classes or games. Children 10 or older must commit to three hours of community service with the Recreation Division prior to the end of the season for which the scholarship was rewarded.

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said he was less concerned with income requirements than he was about promoting community service as a way to reduce or eliminate participation fees. “If there’s a kid out there that doesn’t have the funding and the family can afford it, give them more community service hours,” he said.

Under the terms of the scholarship program, a family of four, for example, would qualify if the total annual family income was $44,123 or less. Each additional family member would increase the maximum allowable income by $7,511.

City Councilman Victor Gomez, who said he came from a family of 11 in which his parents made $15,000 a year, had a neighbor who sponsored him to play Little League baseball and Pop Warner football.

“It’s opportunities like this that can really create other avenues for kids that could potentially fall between the cracks,” he said. “I think it’s a great idea. It’s not like we’re just giving free rides to people no matter what.”

For more information, call 636-4390 or visit the Recreation Department at 300 West St. near the new county courthouse.