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CHAMPAIGN — City council members voted unanimously on Tuesday to buy a brand-new firetruck.

But if you attended Tuesday’s meeting, you might have seen some different faces up on the dais: a group of Cub Scouts from Robeson Elementary, eager to represent their constituents in a mock city council setting.

Instead of simply going over to Cub Scout Den 5 to talk about the role of city government, council member Clarissa Fourman thought a fun trip to the City Building — complete with a fire truck display, courtesy of the Champaign Fire Department — might do more to teach the group of fifth-graders about what it’s like to run Champaign.

“A parent reached out about having a council member come and talk to the kids,” Fourman said. “But I didn’t just want to stand in front of them and answer questions. I got a mock meeting set up instead and, honestly, their discussion was really in line with what really happens.”

Having approved the purchase of a new fire truck — after much deliberation from mock council members who believed a million dollars was a lot and should be spent on other things — the Scouts got to talking about what makes Champaign great, and what could make it better.

Calls for a zoo, a state park, more bowling alleys and bookstores were among the top comments from the students, whose early experience into the city council process could help them eventually become Eagle Scouts, if they work at it.

That’s what den leader Dan Maier said, noting that exposure to city government will get a foot in the door for the Scouts to earn merit badges based around that topic in the future. They’ve already earned the Arrow of Light award for attending the meeting, he said.

“It’s part of our Build a Better World initiative, where Scouts have to engage with someone on the city government,” Maier said. “This will give them good training for getting those citizenship awards in the future.”

Reporter

Aldo Toledo is a reporter covering local government at The News-Gazette. His email is atoledo@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@aldot29).