Students take on role as Florence city council members

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - Tuesday was 'Youth in Government' day in Florence. It was a way to get council members out of their seats, and students in them to debate real city issues.

The city has been taking part in the governmental initiative for 40 years.

Students started the day attending a council work session. Then, they attended a regularly scheduled city council meeting. Afterward, they held a mock meeting, debating real city issues.

"Youth in Government day is really a lot of fun," said Florence Mayor Mickey Haddock. "We have three schools that participate with us now."

Those high schools are Florence High, Shoals Christian and Mars Hill. Students debated issues such as the future of the city recycling program and creating an entertainment district downtown with an open container policy.

"The issues that they had were just for discussion and debate," Mayor Haddock added. "There wasn't anything to it other than that."

However, the Mayor went on to say that those are common issues the city faces. Downtown parking on Court Street was another topic brought up. City department leaders, including Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler offered their input.

"None of the stuff that they debated was real. I think all of them would have probably voted yes on all of the issues."

Overall, it was the participation and experience that meant something. They turned to  Council President William Jordan for reassurance on conducting the meeting. Students wanted to do it the right way.

After the mock meeting, they met one-on-one with all the different city department leaders.