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Green mayor visits young constituents at Green Primary School

3/20/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Joyce Rainey Long

Green Mayor Dick Norton speaks to Green Primary School third-graders about city government.
Photo: Joyce Rainey Long
GREEN — Green Primary School third-graders had a lesson in local government March 18 when Mayor Dick Norton talked to them about his role and how the city operates.

Norton spoke to the students as part of their social studies unit, said Green Primary Principal Scott Shank. Students had the opportunity to ask questions after the speech and contribute to a city parks survey.

“It’s great for the students to see the real-life mayor,” said Shank. “They learn the city has goals and is working toward the goals.”

Green became a city in 1992 and now has a population of 26,000, according to city officials. Norton told the 300 third-graders that as mayor, he makes sure services such as safety and transportation are provided to the city, while City Council passes laws.

“I use my skills and make a difference,” said Norton, who has spoken about local government at the school for the past three years. “I care about the city and community and want Green to be a good city and a cool place to live and a fun place to live. As mayor, you meet a lot of nice people, use your brain, be creative and influence lots of people.”

In his seventh year as mayor, Norton told the students that he must attend many meetings.

“You have to like being around lots of people, and you must be willing to endure and like meetings,” said Norton. “Being mayor is good, honorable work, and the entire weight of the city is on your shoulders. It’s a lot of work, a lot of pressure and a lot of controversy, but I choose to enjoy it.”

Norton spoke about Central Park, the proposed park that would be constructed on 10 acres between the Central Administration Building and Green Intermediate School.

If approved, the park would be completed in the next two years. The students watched a short video about amenities the new park would feature.

“This would be a park that everyone can use and is close to homes and businesses,” said Norton.

The park would include a walking path, playground, stage, ice skating rink and splash pad, he said.

“People could go for mental relaxation, which adds to the fun component of living in Green,” he said.

After the mayor’s speech, students provided their comments on the city’s Central Park Community Survey and were asked about how they rated features of the proposed park.

“This is an opportunity to get students involved in democracy. They are learning what it’s like to have a voice in the government by giving us their opinions,” said Norton, adding he will share the survey results from the students with Council.

“Students this age are fascinated and want to connect to you,” said Norton, whose granddaughter, Makenna Jurkowski, was among the third-graders who listened to his speech at her school. “Students are genuinely interested and so curious.”

Third-grader Sarah O’Neil said she learned mayors work hard and have to do a lot of business.

“Being mayor is a fun way to be an important part of a city,” she said, adding she would like to be mayor one day.

Norton said he enjoys the question-and-answer session after his speeches.

“My favorite questions from other years were,” said Norton, “‘Where’s your mayor’s mansion?’ and ‘What do you eat for breakfast?’”

He said he encourages the students to foster their curiosity.

“Be better students and be informed about the wonderment of the world ... this spurs education and creativity,” Norton said.

The students enjoyed the mayor’s visit, said third-grade teacher Judy Ellis.

“To actually see the mayor instead of reading about him is so beneficial,” she said.

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