Twenty local citizens graduated from the 7th annual Valdosta Government 101 Citizens Orientation at a ceremony on May 9. The seven-week program, an initiative of the Valdosta Mayor and City Council, attracted citizens from all walks of life—from student to educator, professional to retired, and everything in between—with the common goal of learning about the programs and services of their city government.
The class of 2016 include Diana Angel, Debra Bell, Greg Brown, Juan Chow-Kai, Morris H. Dukes, Vinus Floyd, David Hanna, Mikki Hudson, Kisha Middlebrooks, Rajendra Patel, Bonnie Rumphol, Stanley Rumphol, Lori Simpson, Thomas Simpson, Jimmy Sirmans, Joadele Sirmans, Celia Strickland, Miguel Vicente, Darlene Wilson and James Wright.
“Participating in Valdosta Government 101 opened my eyes to how difficult it is to run a city,” said David Hanna, Valdosta State University junior majoring in Finance. “I've witnessed how hard the men and women of each department work to ensure the citizens of Valdosta have a safe, clean, and pleasant place to live. Furthermore, I encourage every citizen of Valdosta to go through the program; you will enjoy every session and gain a wealth of knowledge.”
Participants of the program met on seven consecutive Monday evenings, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., to learn about the overall city government structure, public safety, municipal court, engineering, public works, utilities, financial administration, industrial and economic development, recreation, inspections, neighborhood and community development and planning and zoning. The group of citizens also had the opportunity to tour several government facilities, such as the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Lab, Water Treatment Plant, VFD and VPD Mobile Command Units and City Hall.
“Government 101 was beneficial to me for three important reasons,” said Thomas Simpson, Employment Consultant with AbleGeorgia. “It was an opportunity to educate myself on how enormous a job city leaders have in operating a city such as ours, it allowed me the chance to meet community and business leaders I would never have met otherwise, and it reminded me of what can be accomplished when diverse members of our community come together for a common cause.”
The Valdosta Government 101 Citizens Orientation is one of three volunteer programs in the City of Valdosta available to citizens—the other two are the Citizens Police Academy and Citizens Fire Academy—designed to give citizens valuable knowledge of resources through a behind-the-scenes view inside local government. A number of graduates from these programs have utilized their gained experience and knowledge to pursue public service opportunities, such as serving on local boards and commissions and other public offices.
For more information about signing up for the 2017 class, contact Public Information Officer Sementha Mathews at 229-259-3548.