New group for South Berrien County Democrats organizes

Published 7:46 am Tuesday, March 9, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
BUCHANAN -- A group of Niles area Democrats want to make it clear that their party does have a presence in this area.
The South County Democrat Club held its first public meeting on Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Masonic Temple in Buchanan.
The two and half hour organizational meeting was attended by nearly 30 people from all over Southern Berrien County including Niles, Buchanan, New Buffalo, Three Oaks and Galien.
Jess Minks, one of the group's organizers, was very happy with the turnout and hopes the group will continue to grow.
Minks opened the meeting by explaining the need for a democratic presence in our area and going over the club's mission statement to "motivate, educate and activate."
The group wants to motivate democrats to vote, educate them on the candidates and issues and activate members within the community.
The meeting included naming temporary officers for the club, assigning various committees and setting up future meetings.
The group is not associated with the Masonic Temple, so they first decided to continue to rent out the space for their monthly meetings.
Those in attendance then decided to name temporary officers for the club. Minks was chosen to be president, Dennis Casto was named temporary vice president, Joy Ralston was chosen to be treasurer and Anne Casto was named the club's secretary.
The temporary positions will be held for three months until the group becomes more established and has an election among group members.
The club discussed forming committees in the areas of fundraising, volunteering, candidate recruitment, membership and youth involvement.
The youth committee is being headed by Buchanan High School junior Maria Bouzas.
Bouzas hopes to bring in a number of young people and get them actively involved in the club.
Minks said it is important to have both youth and diversity in the club.
Minks said this will be a grassroots effort and is aware that it may take time to establish themselves.
The club's next meeting will be April 3 at 9 a.m. at the Plaza Restaurant, at 1976 S. 11th St. in Niles. They will also hold a gathering at the Masonic Temple in Buchanan on April 12 at 7 p.m. For more information, call Jess Minks at (269) 695-2462.