“When we were setting our goals last year for each department, we were trying to think of something I could do outside of my clerk duties as a goal for this coming year,” said Vickie Best, Maggie Valley’s town clerk.
An N.C. Certified Municipal Clerk, Best’s been in the business for almost a quarter-century; she and Town Manager Nathan Clark explored the possibility of hosting an educational academy to give residents and business owners a deeper understanding of how a municipality functions by improving their knowledge of the town’s services and programs.
Starting May 2, Maggie Valley will hold its first “citizens academy” at 1 p.m. on each of the five Tuesdays in May.
“I think the intention of it is to better inform the citizenry about what services town provides, how it provides them, and how it pays for those services,” said Clark. “It’s a platform for citizens to be better connected to their government.”
Sessions will include visits to the Maggie Valley Police Department, the Public Works and Sewer departments and the town’s various parks and greenways; presentations on the zoning and planning process as well as the budget will also give participants a better understanding of modern municipal governance.
Maggie Valley’s Citizens Academy isn’t a new idea in the world of municipal government; cities and counties across the country and across the state have been conducting such programs for decades.
In Haywood County, the Chamber of Commerce’s “Leadership Haywood” program has for several years been churning out graduates newly-armed with knowledge of how the county’s institutions and governments function.
Folkmoot — best known for its yearly international folk dance festival — has recently begun a similar program focused on the cultural landscape of the region, and the Waynesville Police Department holds a civilian police academy, but Maggie Valley will become the first municipality in the county to make such a program available.
“We’re really excited about trying this program out and developing a curriculum,” Clark said.
Space is still available in the program, but the deadline to register for the free series of informational meetings is Friday, April 21.
The meetings will involve some walking, so participants should dress comfortably and wear appropriate footwear; graduates will be recognized at the town’s regularly scheduled Board of Aldermen meeting at 6 p.m. on June 12.
Those interested in joining the inaugural class should visit the town’s website, www.maggievalleync.gov, or call Vickie Best at 828.926.0866.