Citizens academy allows residents to interact with officials

Citizens academy allows residents to interact with officials
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It’s a first for the city of Joplin, a citizen’s academy where residents can learn more about city government. Although Monica Dixon has lived in Joplin for most of her life, she wants to know more about her hometown.

“Not really understanding what the city government does, how they work, what the rules and regulations are, it’s kind of hard to vote for new council members or anything if you don’t understand what the process is,” says Dixon.

She is 1 of 25 residents participating in the 9 week program that will allow them to interact with local officials and learn what happens on a daily basis at City Hall.

“I think it’s important for the people because we really do a lot here at the city and a lot of what our employees do goes unnoticed,” says Brian Kelly, assistant to the City Manager and coordinator of the program.

Dixon hopes her involvement will allow her to better form her own opinion on city issues and share her knowledge with others.

“I have heard people on the street asking the same questions that have been forming in my mind but it doesn’t seem to go any further than their questions, they don’t go past voicing that question, so I think it’s important that the few that are here learn and pass that learning on,” continues Dixon.

Recent events have spiked resident’s interest in the government.

“With what the city has been through I think that now’s a great time for citizens, maybe they have a higher level of interest now because of what they’ve been hearing and reading about, and so I think it’s a great time for citizens to come forward and to have that deeper understanding,” says Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert.

And citizens gaining that deeper understanding is what Dixon thinks will help Joplin move forward.

“Without those voices, it will be the same thing over and over again,” she says.

Throughout the program, citizens will tour different offices and meet several department heads.