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Marchel Turner is the new executive director at the Bartlett Center.

Marchel Turner knew he faced a daunting task when he took over as Bartlett Center executive director in September. The task is and has been for several years to get people to come back and get involved in the center again.

“I think the biggest thing is letting people know that we’re here for them. We just ask that they come out and most importantly bring your kids,” Turner said.

For a long time, the Bartlett Center didn’t have many activities to make people want to come out. That’s no longer the case. There are a number of activities planned or ongoing now.

The Bartlett Center has open gym for youth from 5 to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays.

The center also will host a Halloween party from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, at its facility at 409 S. 18th St.

Beginning Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month, the Bartlett Center will host family fun nights with games, food and activities for the whole family, Turner said.

“Come out for a good wholesome meal, bring your kids, spend some quality time not just with your family but your community family,” he said.

Turner said the mission is to get more youth in the Bartlett Center. Currently, there’s a youth mentoring program and an after-school program for youth.

“My main focus is just rebuilding the youth program, getting kids back here in the building after school to work on homework ... but also give them a place where they can come and have fun and also stay out of a bunch of trouble,” he said.

Turner, a former prison counselor, said as a kid growing up in Jacksonville, Arkansas, the Boys and Girls Club there kept him off the street and gave him something to do after school.

“That kept me out of a lot of trouble but it also allowed me to find a place where I could develop some character,” he said.

For more information on Bartlett Center programs, call 816-233-1994.

Alonzo Weston can be reached at alonzo.weston@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWeston.