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Citizens academies give residents a crash course in local government
Gainesville, Hall County programs run weekly March-May
Gainesville Public Safety Complex 0001
Gainesville's Citizens’ Government Academy includes a visit to the Gainesville Justice Center to learn about the police department.

Gainesville Citizens’ Government Academy

When: 6-9 p.m. Mondays from March 14 to May 16
Register: Return registration form by Feb. 26

Hall County Government Scholars’ Academy

When: 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays from March 15 to May 10
Register: Complete online form; registration is first-come, first-served 

Gainesville and Hall County residents interested in learning more about the inner workings of local government have a chance to do so this spring.

Registration has begun for both Gainesville and Hall County’s citizens academies, which both begin the second week of March.

The Gainesville Citizens Government Academy is a nine-week session beginning March 14 with graduation May 16. Classes will be held 6-9 p.m. Mondays at various city facilities.

The Hall County Government Scholars Academy will include nine evening sessions, March 15 through May 10. Each 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday session will focus on a different aspect of local government and will include tours of many facilities.

“We want to encourage citizens to be active in their local government,” Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton said. “Participants will gain an intimate understanding of how their tax dollars are spent and what issues face Hall County government.”

The Hall academy includes visits to the county courthouse, government center, jail, emergency services complex, fire training center and more. View the full schedule.

Meanwhile, the Gainesville academy classes cover community development, public safety, parks and recreation, public works and more. View the full schedule.

Terry Vlaz, who participated in the Gainesville academy in 2014, called the program an “extremely impressive experience,” according to the city.

“You don’t get any other opportunity besides this to really come in, feel welcomed, and for you to get all this knowledge of what really kind of goes behind the scenes ...” said Rosa Pizano, a 2013 Gainesville participant, in a news release from the city. “I think all the information that you get is something that you will want to share with everybody.”

Applicants should be at least 21 and a resident of the United States. There is no cost to participate in either program.

Gainesville’s registration ends Feb. 26 and class size is limited. Registration forms are available online or by calling 770-531-6598.

Hall’s registration will end when the program reaches its 25-person maximum capacity. Registration can be done online and a syllabus is also available online, or residents can call 770-297-5504 for more information.