The Times West Virginian

Opinion

March 13, 2013

Fairmont 101 is educational program to give city major boost

There are times when the phone rings in Jay Rogers’ office and he feels helpless.

A business owner or a resident may have a question or have an issue that he as city manager for Fairmont just can’t answer.

It may be that the issue is outside of the corporate limits of Fairmont or outside of the scope of what a city can do for its residents. It may be a tax issue, which cities are left with little wiggle room from state mandates, or a public safety issue the city cannot address because of a limited budget.

These are issues Rogers is familiar with because of his long history in city government, but things that perhaps your average citizen may not know.

That’s why the city has created Fairmont 101, a program designed to educate citizens about roles, responsibilities of city government. The classes are designed to educate the residents of Fairmont about the roles and responsibilities of local government.

Through a series of eight monthly classes — with groups meeting either in the morning or the evening — a graduate of the program will have more than just a working knowledge of how the city works from the top to the bottom.

“The whole program is designed with the intention of educating citizens,” Rogers said.

The idea originally came from a highly successful project in Decatur, Ga., and Rogers felt it was a good fit for Fairmont, too.

“What they found in Decatur was that graduates of the pro­gram were more likely to become volunteers. They’ve seen more people run for city coun­cil, and they’ve seen the number of calls about little things just drop,” Rogers explained. “People now know where to go. People now know what to do.”

We’re excited about people becoming involved in the city process, too. All too often, when there is a board opening or a council seat vacant, few apply or seek election. This city needs investment of time and energy from its residents. And this city needs the innovation that only comes from bringing new people into volunteer and elected positions.

Application packets are available at the customer service department of the city on the third floor of the J. Harper Meredith Building, at the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, by calling 304366-6211, ext. 310, or online at www.fairmontwv.gov.

We strongly encourage anyone interested in the future of Fairmont to participate in these classes.

The only way you can make a positive impact in your community is to No. 1 be armed with as much information as possible and No. 2 make a commitment to your city. We believe that graduates of Fairmont 101 will be the future leaders of this community.

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