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Clay Johnson, right, and a work detail of five boys from the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan clear snow from a sidewalk and stairway on Seventh Street Northwest near Mandan High School on Jan. 14, 2015. Boys and girls of the YCC also help with setting up for summertime events in Mandan and will begin maintenance work at Mandan Union Cemetery in May. City and YCC staff call the working relationship a "win-win" for those involved.

Boys and girls of the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan lend a hand throughout the year for annual events and snow shoveling — now set to expand to other work next year.

Under a new contract, they’ll be working at the Mandan Union Cemetery beginning in May, tending to weeds and trimming. Both city and YCC staff say the working relationship with the youth is a “win-win.”

“It’s been very productive over many years,” Mandan city administrator Jim Neubauer said.

For years the city has contracted with the YCC for snow removal on sidewalks subject to complaint or not in compliance with city ordinance.

The working relationship has gone back at least a decade or longer, which YCC director Tim Tausend said helps build work ethic, gives the youth a chance to make a little money, builds community relations and fills a labor gap.

“It is kind of a win for everybody,” Tausend said.

YCC kids also help with setting up for annual events in Mandan, such as Buggies-n-Blues, Mandan Rodeo Days, Wild West GrillFest and Oktoberfest.

Del Wetsch, of the Mandan Progress Organization, said the youth help set up tables and tents and are treated to a pizza party afterward.

“You learn a little bit about their family and their history and what happened, how they got out there, but how they’re changing to get back in the community,” Wetsch said. “It’s actually been a lot of fun. It’s a learning experience for both groups, I think -- for us and for them." 

Tausend said jobs for the youth depend on the duties and their abilities. Wetsch said about six to eight kids help in the setting up process for annual events -- leading to some excitement for them when they get to see cars in town early for Buggies-n-Blues. 

"They sure enjoy getting out and just actually working in the community," Wetsch said. "It's been a relationship that we hope continues." 

The YCC houses about 50 boys and girls committed to custody of the state’s Division of Juvenile Services, usually for an average of seven months.

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Reach Jack Dura at 701-223-8482 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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Capitol Reporter