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Gainesville, Hall academies offer local government education
Programs begin in March
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Gainesville Citizens’ Government Academy
Contact: Deb Gregson, Gainesville’s Communications and Tourism Office, 770-531-6598
Hall County Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy
Contact: Jennifer Moore, Hall County Sheriff’s Office, 770-531-6900

Hall County residents now have a chance to learn about their local government.

Applications are open again for the annual Gainesville Citizens’ Government Academy and Hall County Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy programs that start in March.

City officials try to avoid a typical classroom lecture style.

“We work really hard to make the classes interesting,” said City Manager Kip Padgett. “When we’re teaching about the city’s finances, we give everyone 100 pennies and ask them to divide them between all city departments. When you realize 50 pennies immediately go to police and fire, it’s an eye opening experience.”

Each department develops a unit to teach, and this year the staff will emphasize how the departments are handling the financial shortfall.

The free seven-week session starts March 14 and ends May 2, with sessions at 6 p.m. Mondays. Applicants must be age 21 and complete registration by March 1. Participants aren’t required to be Gainesville residents.

“The big thing is, the more a person knows about what the government does and how it works, the less they have to complain about,” Gainesville City Council member Myrtle Figueras said at a recent work session. “As council members, we should get involved and go around and encourage people to sign up.”

The sheriff’s office academy is a seven-week, 14-session program that starts March 1 with classes 6-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the sheriff’s office law enforcement center on Main Street.

“The program consists of both classroom and practical exercises with citizen participation welcome,” said spokesman Col. Jeff Strickland. “Upon your acceptance into the program, you can expect informative sessions examining all the duties of the

Hall County Sheriff’s Office, including the Court Services Division, the Detention Center, Uniform Patrol Division and Criminal Investigations.”

The sheriff’s office academy is informational and doesn’t expect participants to act in a public safety officer capacity, he noted. Completion of the program doesn’t certify residents as a law enforcement officer in any way.

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