The hot spot

Coffee house offers area youth a place to hang out away from pressure to consume alcohol, drugs

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Every Friday and Saturday night young people of Craig gather in a lounge at the Centennial Mall.

Loud music blares over the stereo system as young adults shoot pool, play foosball, lounge on couches and sit around a table playing cards.

With the loud music and games people might think they're walking into a new trendy bar when they first enter the room because in one corner of the room there is a counter where drinks are served.

But only soda, cappuccino and lattes are served behind the counter, only contemporary Christian music plays on the stereo, and if people glance at a sign outlining the house rules hung on the wall, they'll see this lounge is far from a bar.

It reads:

No smoking.

No alcohol.

No skateboarding.

No cussing.

No drugs.

No fighting or horseplay.

The popular hangout for many young Craig residents is the Frontlines Young Adult Lounge and Coffee House.

Sponsored by the New Creation Church of Craig, Frontlines is offered as an alternative weekend activity for youth in Craig, said William Sansom, a youth leader at the New Creation Church who is responsible for opening the lounge.

It offers a place where youth can gather with their peers and not feel the pressures of drugs and alcohol that can often arise on Friday and Saturday nights.

"I started to clean up my act a few years ago and found the only thing to do in this area at night was sit at home and watch movies," he said. "That was my motive in starting this."

Young people want to hang out with their peers on the weekend, but they don't have anywhere to go, Sansom said.

"All young people in town face that problem," he said.

"You can sit at Village Inn or stay home and rent a movie, but that gets old pretty quick."

Sansom said he knows from personal experience that it's hard to find things to do on the weekend, which is why it is often easy to give into peer pressure.

"I know from experience that this town needs more young adult extra curricular and recreation activities," he said. "I want these kids to see there's another option out there instead of going out and getting in trouble."

Sansom estimated he gets an average of 40 high school students in the lounge every Friday and Saturday, and said he has had up to 100 young people on busy nights.

The lounge is not just restricted to high school students either, he said.

Some college-age students show up there, and over spring break Sansom estimated 20 college students came to the lounge.

Sansom said he has seen many different faces appear in the lounge at different times, but said some young people are there on a consistent basis.

"There are about 20 kids in town who really depend on this," he said.

One of those young people is 16-year-old Keith Katnar.

"It's a fun place to be," Katnar said. "There's no peer pressure and everyone's always in a good mood."

Katnar said the coffee shop gives him something to do on the weekend.

"I don't like to drink and do stuff like that," he said. "This is better than just sitting at home."

The lounge is now open from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights, but Sansom said the goal is for the lounge to be open daily.

He said he is also considering moving the lounge downtown soon.

Sansom said his goal is to bring in bands and comedians to provide additional entertainment for youth in Craig.

For more questions about the Frontlines Young Adult Lounge and Coffee House people can call Sansom at (970) 629-0021 or Pastor Jason Haskell at (970) 824-5985.

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