The Times West Virginian

March 5, 2014

‘Fairmont 101’ again available to citizens

Program gives city residents a clear idea of how departments work

By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Fairmont residents wanting to get an inside look into how Fairmont’s city government works will have their chance starting this April with the second annual “Fairmont 101” program.

The program was designed by the city to give Fairmont residents a clear idea of how different departments within the city work, outlining their specific roles and responsibilities.

“The program is open to anyone that wants to learn more about the city of Fairmont’s operations,” City Manager Jay Rogers said.

The program will consist of nine two-hour sessions, offered once a month from April through December.

The sessions are available in the morning or the evening, to accommodate different schedules. The morning sessions will be at 10 a.m., and the evening sessions will run at 6 p.m.

Most sessions will be held at the Public Safety Building, though some sessions will be held off-site at the location of the department making the presentation. Any special site locations or guest speakers will be announced at the session the month prior.

Rogers said that this year’s program is very similar to last year’s Fairmont 101 program.

“The individual department heads will make presentations each week,” Rogers said.

Rogers said the sessions will be limited to around 20 participants, and the city will continue accepting applications until the program is full.

“We found last year that if we had around 20 or so in the group, it was a good manageable number, so we’ll try to keep it to that again,” Rogers said.

Most sessions will be held the third Thursday of each month, though months with holiday conflicts, such as November and December, will follow a modified schedule.

The first session will be offered April 24.

“It will offer not only an orientation to the program, but also the whole history of Fairmont and how the community got here, and it will take them through to the present day,” Rogers said.

After the first session, each subsequent session will focus on a different department, such as the Fairmont Police Department or the Public Works Department. The final session in December will cover quality of life and program graduation.

Rogers said that the response to the program last year was positive.

“We did a survey after the last class,” Rogers said. “They unanimously said we need to continue to do this. We also received that feedback from our department heads. They felt it was valuable.”

The idea for Fairmont 101 came out of the 2012 West Virginia Municipal League Conference in the summer of 2012. The assistant city manager from Decatur, Ga., came to speak with the city managers there.

“They had a program called Decatur 101,” Rogers said. “She was speaking, and I was sitting there thinking, wow, that’s what we need to do.”

Rogers said that, as a graduate of the Leadership Marion and Leadership West Virginia programs, he was familiar with the concept behind Decatur 101, and how it might prove valuable.

“Decatur started their program several years ago. They have over a couple hundred graduates now,” Rogers said. “One thing she commented on was that they really saw a dramatic increase in their volunteerism because residents understand there are roles to play volunteering on boards and commissions.

“That’s something we struggle with in Fairmont.”

Rogers said they hope to see more people sign up for volunteer positions on boards and commissions in the future.

Both information on the program and the application are available on the city of Fairmont’s Twitter feed @FairmontWVgov, or on the city Web page at fairmontwv.gov. The program includes full information on the program, as well as a short description of each monthly session. Tuition for the program is $20, to help with program and materials costs.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.