WUFT News

Marion Residents Peek Behind the Government Curtain

By on January 14th, 2014
Executive Administrative Manager Jeannie Rickman gives an overview of what people can expect from the ‘Citizens Academy.’Nicole Germany/ WUFT NewsManager Jeannie Rickman gives an overview of what people can expect from the Citizens Academy.

Can a Marion resident learn as much from a trip to the landfill as they could from a trip to the library?

They can at the Citizens Academy, said 71-year-old Marion resident Jim Brockman.

The Citizens Academy is a 10-week program that educates residents and offers a behind-the-scenes view into the inner workings of their local government. Brockman and his wife both completed the course and visited several government departments during their time, ranging from the public library to the local landfill.

“We really saw government come alive during those weeks,” said Brockman. “It was a commitment, but it was worth it.”

First implemented in 1999, the academy’s program lasted four years before it was shut down.* However, with support from the Marion board of county commissioners and county administrator, Lee Niblock, the program re-launched in March of 2010 as part of Niblock’s “Doing More With Less: It’s All About Change” plan.

The program strives to inform participants of the different challenges and issues facing Marion County and provides an inside look into the operations and services of the local departments and offices.

Marion County residents at least 18 years of age can apply to take the course, though  space is limited to 60 applicants per 10-week course.

To graduate, residents must attend eight of the 10 sessions that take place on Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon. A night session will also be available from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. starting on March 6.

Each session is located at a different government department, where experts provide demonstrations of public works, such as filling a pothole to keep participants engaged. Mounir Bouyounes, assistant county administrator and county engineer, believes it is beneficial for residents to know what services are provided by the local government.

“A lot of the time people see things out in the field, and they don’t know who to call or who to get with,” Bouyounes said.

Brockman said he enjoys the things that most citizens would find rather mundane.

“One of my favorite parts of the program was when we went to the landfill,” Brockman said. “It was really interesting to see how they take care of the garbage and to see how they produce the methane gas off of that.”

*Correction appended: A previous version of this story said the academy’s program was shut down due to a lack of funding. It’s not known why the academy was discontinued initially, Marion County Commissioners program director Barbra Hernandez wrote in an email.


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

The Ocala City Council voted not to renew Matthew Brower's contract as city manager on Tuesday. Brower's current contract will expire on Dec. 21.

Ocala City Manager’s Contract Not Renewed

The request to reappoint Matthew Brower as Ocala’s city manager was rejected on a three-to-two vote by the Ocala City Council. Brower was appointed city manager in February 2011, and his contract will now expire on Dec. 21.


Victoria Rusinov administers FluMist to a child at the Control Flu clinic at Littlewood Elementary School.

CDC Studies Effects of Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine Over Traditional Shot for Children

Recent studies suggests a nasal spray form of the flu vaccine is more effective than the flu shot in healthy children ages 2 to 8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Meg Taylor, 31, spins fire beside the drum circle at the Jam.

Gainesville’s Jam Set to Close

Local bar and music venue The Jam will close its doors this November after lease troubles and other plans for the area.


IMG_2694

Pizza and Parrot Lovers Come Together

Parrots and Pizza, a local group that meets monthly at Napolatano’s Restaurant in Gainesville, works closely with the Open Wings Rescue and Sanctuary in a joint effort to get attendees of the event to adopt parrots in need of new homes.


IMG_1085-200x300

Santa Fe Apes Get a New Home

Two-year-old Rainer received her first extreme home makeover, with renovations costing $350,000. Her new space is 70 feet in length, complete with rope courses, trees and tunnels.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments