MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — The City of Morgantown held its first session for its “Citizens Academy” on Friday, Sept. 29.
Accepted applicants will be part of this eight-week course that is designed to give them a look into the inner workings of the city departments and how to effectively engage their local government. The goal of the program is to increase citizens’ knowledge of how municipal governments work, which will provide them with the power to create change within their own neighborhoods.
This course is free and open to the public, however, 12 students were already accepted for this season’s academy class sessions. The sessions occur every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. at various locations. The locations will be decided by which topics are held that week. These sessions will have unique activities and engaging discussions led by staff from the city.
Some of the session topics include:
- Creating strong neighborhoods through planning
- Street paving and maintenance
- Parks and recreation
- Arts and culture
- Public safety
- Budget process
The opening class on Friday was a rundown on how the sessions will work and an overview of city titles and what form of government Morgantown operates under.
The first Morgantown Citizens Academy was held in February and March of this year and has received a lot of positive feedback since then, so they decided to host another one which will run until Nov. 15.
So many people applied that most were put on a waitlist. When accepting those who were interested, the city looked at three criteria from applicants:
- Being a city resident
- What ward you live in (they try to get one person from every ward)
- Order of applications
Since the topics regard government transactions and information, it tends to attract people between ages 20 and 50 but is for all ages. The city has also talked about potentially expanding a course to middle and high schoolers if they are interested. The program does admit citizens out of city limits because they feel that it is still good for those people to gain an understanding of the government.
Morgantown Communications Director Andrew Stacy believes this course is important for citizens and said that if people are going to participate in some form of government, it should be in the local elections, and the program is meant to encourage that.
“No place more does it impact you on a day-to-day basis than in your local elections. I think that that this is just meant to encourage that, to get people to understand how we operate, and really, why we do certain things that we do,” Stacy said.
Citizens who participate in the full eight-week academy will receive a completion coin at a city council meeting on Nov. 15.
The city will hold another Citizens Academy next spring for those still interested in joining the program. If you are interested in applying, you can find application updates here.