Silvius shares update on Indian Gully project

The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) is almost finished with the first phase of its Indian Gully upgrade plan, and Mayor Shawnna Silvius is thrilled to host a ribbon cutting of the park’s new kiosk in coming weeks.
Before being elected as Red Oak’s mayor, Sivlius began having meetings with youth and young adults about potential improvements they thought could be made to benefit the city.
“They see things in a totally different perspective than a lot of us adults do,” she said. “And also, they have a different appreciation for different things that we also need to highlight and pay attention to.”
Silvius explained that the MYAC is a mutually beneficial program that both teaches youth how a city government operates and provides Red Oak City Council members insight into how its programs and decisions impact the town’s youth.
“I think that we as a community of Red Oak have to think about how to integrate youth into every board, into every project, because we really are building a community for the future,” she said.
Along with the youth members of the MYAC, Silvius also recognized housing developer Cynthia Bangston as well as retired U.S. Marshall and educator Dave Dimmitt, who are advisors for the program.
Each year, the MYAC decides on a meaningful project to pursue. This year, the members chose to upgrade Indian Gully, which is a city-owned, all natural park lined with nature trails.
Members of the MYAC expressed that the fact the park is all natural is an asset to the city, and since not many in town know of the park’s existence, they wanted to draw attention to it.
The first phase of carrying out the Indian Gully upgrade plan was to map out the trails. With their cell phones and GPS mapping programs, the members mapped out approximately one mile of trails and paths. With the help of County Engineer Karen Albert, the MYAC also captured drone footage to assist in this process.
To begin this project, the MYAC had to pitch its ideas to the Red Oak Park and Tree Board and the Red Oak City Council, which both gave 100% approval. The MYAC also received grants from the Montgomery County Community Foundation and the Red Oak Heritage Foundation.
To raise even more funding for their cause, the MYAC received donations from the Monday Club, the Chamber of Commerce and more. In total, the council raised over $2,500 to fund its project.
Sivlius also recognized Kesandra Pullen, who is currently designing a sign with the mapped out trails, that will be added to the new kiosk at Indian Gully’s entrance. Said kiosk was constructed with the help of the Red Oak Do It Center.
“It’s taken a number of people, a number of agencies, the county, the city, the donors, the Do It Center, Kesandra, everybody coming together to do this project,” Silvius said. “It was just a really good example to them of how they can take an initiative, work together with a vision and come out with the end product.”
In the future, the MYAC will begin phase two of the Indian Gully upgrade project, which will consist of working with the school’s 4-H, FFA and industrial tech program to place birdhouses, trail signs, benches, and more amenities within the park.
Though there is still more to come, Silvius is beyond proud of the MYAC members for their hard work and dedication to this project. Therefore, she will be hosting a ribbon-cutting event toward the end of June to open this kiosk up to the public.
“If we’re trying to really keep, maintain and retain our youth and grow our youth presence in our community, the way to do that is to start now when they’re young and get them involved,” she said. “Give them a purpose, a meaning and a way to contribute to their community.”
Every fall, Mayor Silvius visits Red Oak schools to discuss the MYAC with students and offer applications for those who wish to apply. These applications are due at the end of September of each year.
“I think the connections that we’ve made with the kids, the friendships that we’ve built, the mentoring that they’ve given to us is as valuable as what we’ve given to them,” she said.
For any questions regarding the application process, the MYAC or the Indian Gully project, Mayor Silvius can be reached at

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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