Class exploring city government begins


Published: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 10:42 p.m.

The City of Gainesville's Citizens' Academy begins today, but it's not too late to sign up.

The six-week program offers citizens an inside look at city government.

Frank Green, a Gainesville resident who participated in the program in fall 2008, said he joined the academy to find out how his tax dollars were spent.

"I highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in city government," he said. "And as a taxpayer, you should be."

Green said he didn't have any preconceived notions about city government when he signed up for the program, just that he wanted to learn more.

After seeing demonstrations of fire trucks by Gainesville Fire Rescue and a tour of Gainesville Regional Utilities' Deerhaven Plant, he said he felt better about where his tax money was going.

Classes are from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays, except the final session, which will be held at the same time on May 8, a Tuesday.

Today's session serves as an orientation to city government and includes presentations by Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan and City Manager Russ Blackburn.

Spokesman Bob Woods said the city will accept applications through Monday so participants can start with the second session, which is hosted by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs at Morningside Nature Center.

Other sessions will take participants to the city's public works compound, police station and technology enterprise center, as well as GRU's John R. Kelly Generating Station.

Of 40 spots available for the program, roughly 26 have been filled, he said. The program filled completely in the fall.

The courses are open to everyone, he said, including people from surrounding communities and unincorporated areas.

After participating in the academy, citizens may opt to serve on boards and committees that advise the city government, Woods said.

For more about the Citizens' Academy or to register, call 334-5017 or visit http://academy.cityofgainesville.org.

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