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City seeks citizens for government education

Written by Isaiah Smart

 

Valdosta’s local government will be exposed to a select group of citizens later this spring.

 

Residents of Valdosta will get a chance to see what it’s like behind the scenes by attending the 4th annual Government 101 Citizens Orientation Program.

 

The mayor and his council created Government 101 in 2010 in attempts to educate residents about the inner workings of their local government.

 

The program will last for six weeks and participants will meet on Mondays from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Valdosta residents will learn about departments such as public safety, engineering, financial administration and facility tour.

 

Departments responsible for construction inspection, city projects, water distribution, police bureaus, utilities and many more will be covered during the program.

 

“I feel like things are sugarcoated in the news and I would like to know what’s going on,” Deiera Evans, a sophomore business management major, said.

 

Those who plan to participate in this six-week program will have to go through a background investigation and must complete a criminal history form.

 

“I encourage citizens 18 years and up to apply and participate in the program,” Sementha Mathews, public information officer, said.

 

To apply, residents of Valdosta can download the form at http://www.valdostacity.com/publicinformation or pick up a copy of the CityBeat newsletter.

 

Applications are due on March 8, and can be submitted at the Public Involvement Department, Valdosta City Hall Annex, 300 N. Lee Street Room 202.

 

Applicants must be Valdosta residents and a maximum of 25 people will be selected from the group that passes the required background checks. Participants will be in facilities that most citizens don’t get a chance to see. City Hall officials want to ensure everyone’s safety.

 

If more than 25 people qualify, preference will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

“I don’t think a lot of people will do it,” DeMiah Greene, a junior psychology major, said. “People won’t be interested.”

 

The 25-person limit is in place to give participants a comfortable environment. The small number will allow instructors the opportunity to be more involved with the group and provide a more enjoyable experience.

 

According to Mathews, presentations from departments like public safety will cover concerns that some people have like how much it takes to equip officers.

 

Concerns like what steps Valdosta takes to purify its water or its efforts to train firefighters are repeatedly asked to government officials.  This initiative will cover those areas.

 

“I definitely feel that citizens will be interested due to their feelings of government secrecy,” Alexis Bell, a junior mass media major, said. “I feel as though it’s important because the laws and government affects students as well.”

 

The program will begin on April 1 and will continue for the following six weeks. For more information on the Government 101 Citizens Orientation Program call 229-259-3522.

 

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