For the first time in its 109-year history, the Troutman government is opening up the doors at Town Hall to show its citizens the behind-the-scene steps needed to keep the town’s services functioning smoothly.
The initiative is called the Troutman Citizens Academy and the first class will begin in January. The program will be free, but residents interested in attending must register in advance.
“The academy participants will have the opportunity to learn about the town’s history, discuss departmental functions and operations and take part in a personalized question and answer session with the Town Board,” said Planning Director Erika Martin. Classes will be held 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesdays beginning Jan. 6.
Specific areas to be covered include the Troutman Police Department, Town Finances, Public Works and Parks and Recreation. Acceptance into the program is on a first-come basis with a maximum of 20 participants. Residents from both the incorporated section of the town as well as the unincorporated are eligible to register for the program.
The academy will conclude March 12 with a special recognition ceremony at the March Town Board meeting.
Neighboring municipalities have had great success with similar programs. Statesville has a program called Statesville 101 which began in 2008. “We are delighted with the variety of citizens who sign up for the sessions,” said Statesville program director Nancy Davis. “It attracts newcomers to the city, also some retirees, and others who, despite being busy think it’s important to learn how their local government works.”
Davis says that without exception, everyone who has completed Statesville 101 indicated it was time well spent. “It’s important for local government to get feedback from citizens and we feel this is one of the best ways we’ve ever done it.”
A more recent entry into programs designed to educate residents is Iredell County, which launched its own Citizens Academy last year according to Executive Assistant Jill Malo. “From what I know, the responses received from the participants were overwhelmingly positive,” she said. Iredell County’s program is structured similarly to Troutman’s, but with the focus on county-oriented services such as the Sheriff’s Office and solid-waste disposal.