Thirteen local citizens graduated from the 11th annual Valdosta Government 101 Citizens Orientation at a ceremony on May 6, joining more than 250 graduates from the program to date.
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 2019 includes Cheryl Acree, Kevin Bussey, Janice Clark, Donnell Davis Jr, Marie Guest, Ray Hannah, LeDiana Harrison, Sean Hoke, Cali Kent, Taylor Marzell, Thomas McIntyre, Thomas McIntyre Jr, Megan Molargik and James Theobald.
“There is an incredible amount to learn in the Valdosta Government 101 Class – hearing about the revitalization of the downtown area, getting a tour of the water treatment plant, learning about how the municipal budget works, getting a presentation on the process of code enforcement in the city, and everything in between,” said Luke Voigt, Financial Advisor with The Investment Centre at CBC Bank. “More importantly, you get to see the passion that all of the city leaders and Department Heads have for the city of Valdosta. It’s an incredible experience that all citizens in the surrounding areas should take advantage of. You’ll come out of the class with not only a better understanding of the inner-workings of the municipal government; you’ll also come out with a deeper appreciation for what the city officials do to keep our city running.”
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, parks and recreation, Main Street, and planning and zoning.
"Having had this invaluable experience has me looking toward the future on how I can become more active and give back to the community that I call home. Not only did I love the classes; I also made new friends. Building a community of like-minded individuals who share the same love for Valdosta has been such a Blessing. I learned so much about the inner workings of what makes Valdosta function as the metropolis gem of South Georgia," said Le’Diana Harrison, Retired Teacher.
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 locals valuable knowledge of resources through a behind-the-scenes view inside their 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.
“We are proud to have Valdosta Government 101 participants from throughout Lowndes County, as well as from the adjacent counties, who are truly interested in learning about our city government and community. As a result, this program is producing more-informed community members who want to play a greater role in civic life,” said Mayor John Gayle.
The Valdosta Government 101 Citizens Orientation is held each year during the months of April and May. For information about the 2020 class, contact Public Information Officer Ashlyn Becton at 229-259-3548.