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By Ian Thompson
SUISUN CITY - More after-school programs at Suisun City schools and increasing community use of the Joe Nelson Community Center will be among the main goals of Suisun City's Parks and Recreation Department this year.
"Suisun City has a lot of great programs and we can do more," said Kelly Davis, the recently hired director of the Joe Nelson Community Center.
Davis comes on board to oversee all the activities at the Community Center and work to expand Suisun City's after-school programs.
Her position is financed by a federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Program grant. When the grant runs out, the position will be funded with city funds.
Recent tight budgets had kept the Suisun City Parks and Recreation Department from putting a person in place to specifically concentrate on expanding the center's activities.
Davis, who has experience with recreation and after-school programs in Napa, Vacaville and Dixon, arrived this month from her last job in Dixon which included starting after-school programs.
She will spend this month learning the ropes of running the center and then start work fine-tuning programs to better meet residents' needs, increasing the frequency of room rentals to local groups and increasing the number of after-school programs.
Now with the people-power he needs, Suisun City Parks and Recreation Department Director Mick Jessop is putting out surveys and talking with residents to see what they want and working on ways to better market the present programs.
"We want to look at how we can show the quality of this facility to the community," Jessop said.
Suisun City is planning to expand the after-school program at Crystal Middle School and start after-school programs at its three elementary schools, Jessop said.
State grant funds are already available to start the program at Suisun Elementary School. The city is appealing to the state to get funding to start programs at Dan Root and Crescent elementary schools as well as expand the three-year-old Crystal program.
The programs will allow students to stay after school to study, get assistance with homework and test preparation, and take part in enrichment programs, Jessop said.
"We are working with the YMCA for staffing the programs," Jessop said.
The Suisun Elementary School program, which could hold 80 students, is expected to start Feb. 6. Jessop will find out on Feb. 1 if the city gets funds for the programs at the other schools.
Jessop is also working with several local nonprofit and civic groups to help with other recreation programs "because we need to stretch whatever funding we have."