Academy offers glimpse inside town government

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Scott Fadness

By Jordan Fischer
Current in Fishers

For the fourth year in a row, Fishers residents will have the opportunity to become “students” and examine the inner workings of their town government.

Registration opened Monday for the Fishers Town Government Academy, an eight-week course that will take students through the operations of the fire and police departments, wastewater treatment plant (one of the most popular classes, according to Deputy Town Manager Scott Fadness), and culminates with a mock town council meeting where the students act as councilors.

“The majority of the people I’ve found have come with predefined notions of government, and leave with different perspectives,” Fadness said. “This course gives them the ability and the insight to relate to public policy questions that they may need to vote on in a given year.”

With 22 graduates of the course now serving on town boards and commissions, Fadness said it has also become an unofficial “training course” for government appointments.

A National Citizen Survey conducted in Fishers in 2009 reported that only 25 percent of residents participated in a club or civic group in the previous year, and only 17 percent had attended a town meeting. According to Town of Fishers communications director Maura Leon-Barber, the Town Government Academy is gateway for people to get involved.

“The survey showed that people actually want to participate in government, but feel like they don’t have the opportunity,” Barber said. “This is a great chance, especially for those interested in the town-versus-city argument, to ask questions about how things would operate differently.”

Interested people who are residents of Fishers and at least 18 years of age may register free of charge online at the Town of Fishers Web site (under the “Government” tab, select “Administration,” and then “Citizen Involvement”). Classes begin February 15, and will run on Tuesday evenings from 6-8 p.m. until April 18.

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