It took 109 years, but the Town of Troutman has its first class of graduates, made possible as a result of the first Citizens Academy held by the town.
The purpose of the program was to show residents the behind-the-scene steps needed to keep the town’s services functioning smoothly.
The class of 11 received diplomas at the town board’s March 12 meeting, and by all accounts, the seven-week session held on consecutive Tuesday evenings was a success, so much so that a bonus session is being held.
“I had the opportunity to attend several of the classes,” said Mayor Elbert Richardson, “and I was really impressed with both the interest and enthusiasm displayed by our graduates.”
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The students were equally excited about the program. “This was such a rewarding experience,” said Charles Delnero, 72, as he waited to receive his diploma. “There’s so much to learn about this government, which the average citizen doesn’t realize. In addition, the history of Troutman is fascinating. I would urge any resident to sign up for the next program.”
The academy participants had the opportunity to discuss departmental functions and operations during the program, including visits with several department heads, including Police Chief Matthew Selves, Finance Director Steve Sheely and Town Manager Ann Bailie.
“Engaging residents through the Citizens Academy helps them to understand the different roles and responsibilities of our town staff and also strengthens our community,” Bailie said. “By the end of the academy sessions, our participants came away with a much deeper understanding of municipal operations.”
According to program director and coordinator Erika Martin, the bonus class will be about the EMS and Fire Department services in the town. “They weren’t originally part of the academy curriculum since they aren’t a town function, but the class members were very interested in the public safety operations, too.”
Neighboring municipalities have had great success with similar programs.
Statesville has a program called Statesville 101 that began in 2008. “We are delighted with the variety of citizens who sign up for the sessions,” said 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.”
Dave Vieser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Dave? Email him at
Want to go?
Troutman residents interested in registering for the next Citizens Academy, which will be held beginning January, should contact Danielle Upright at Town Hall to obtain an application. She can be reached at 704-528-7600, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications may also be picked up at Town Hall.