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

Lester Poole, 94, is one of more than 170 residents at Ocala Health and Rehabilitation Center. The center as been steadily losing volunteers over the past year.

Lack of Volunteers Leave Elderly Looking for Conversation

Lester Poole has stories he may never get to tell. The 94-year-old served in the United States Coast Guard from 1939 to 1947, during which he traveled the globe and went wherever the tide took him. “South Africa. Brazil,” he [...]


Participants partake in a “color throw” following the race -  everyone in the audience tossed their color packets into the air at once. The result was a cloud of color that rose above the crowd, growing larger after the next color throw was conducted.

Kaleidoscope Tour’s Color Run Comes To Gainesville

The Kaleidoscope Tour visited Gainesville on Saturday for the 2014 edition of the Color Run. Nicknamed “The Happiest 5K On The Planet,” the run drew hundreds of participants.


Marion County Loses Bid For Veterans Nursing Home

Florida’s seventh nursing home for military veterans will be built in western Port St. Lucie. Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve $17 million in funding for the 120-bed facility, which will cost an [...]


Twins Jada and Jaelyn Weems spend their birthday holding signs during the vigil. They live close to Ocala Place Apartments, where some of the shootings have occurred.

Ocala Community Members Unite at Prayer Vigil

Ocala religious leaders and the Ocala Police Department organized a community prayer vigil to promote an end to the recent violence in the community. Four drive-by-shootings have left three injured since early September.


Julia Minors had minor renovations, including a new paint job, done on her home Sept. 11. Minors was one of the Gainesville residents to receive free paint and low-cost renovations through the Partnership for Paint.

Gainesville Partnership Gives New Life to Old Homes

Gainesville’s Community Redevelopment Agency has partnered with Alachua Habitat for Humanity to create the Partnership for Paint program, which helps Gainesville residents update their homes through painting and repairs, for a reduced out-of-pocket fee.


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