Have you ever wondered how the City makes decisions, or where your tax dollars actually go? The Midland Citizens Academy
has your answers, offering residents an exclusive, ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at local government, and how it shapes the community. The City is accepting applications for the 2023 course, which runs Jan. 11-March 15. The free, 10-week course is held on Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at various municipal facilities.
‘Behind-the-scenes’ tours include the Law Enforcement Center, Midland County Jail, and the Midland Water Treatment Plan. Many of these locations are not open to the general public on a daily basis.
Katie Guyer is the City of Midland's communications coordinator.
Katie Guyer, communications coordinator for the City of Midland, says the Citizens Academy program started in 2007, “The City was looking for an additional way to engage with residents to help them be more informed of the programs, services, and vision behind what we do everyday in the City, help them better understand local government, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the way that we operate a City.”
Guyer says this will be the 16th graduating class, and the program has graduated over 400 residents. The once-a-year program is held every winter, when City operations are slower after the holidays. “We only have about 27 spots available in the academy every year, and we always receive about three times as many applications,” Guyer says.
Over the years, the roster of alum has grown, and so too have their ‘success stories.’ Guyer says, “Mayor Maureen Donker went through our first Citizens Academy in 2007. She was kind of on-the-fence about running for public office, and wanted to get a little more information about what it was like, and what local government really meant. She said that is what solidified her decision to run for City Council. She has been on the City Council continuously since 2007, and has been our Mayor since 2009.”
The 10-week program takes participants to several different City facilities.
In fact, many graduates of the Academy have gone on to serve on Council, boards, the Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission, and more. Some have even gone on to receive full-time employment within the City. “It’s an excellent first step for someone who may be considering getting involved somehow in local government, but they don’t really know enough about it to feel comfortable,” Guyer says.
The Academy is free, as a result of tax dollars, says Guyer. “We really encourage people to come out, and take advantage of that, and see how their money is spent and used,” Guyer says.
The application deadline for the 2023 Citizens Academy is Fri, Dec. 2nd.
Guyer’s favorite part about the program is the connections it builds. “I think one of the most powerful parts of the program is that we get the opportunity to connect with residents on a personal level just as much as they get to know us, we get to know them very well too.”
Applicants are required to be at least 18 years of age, and identify as a Midland County or City of Midland resident. The deadline to apply is Friday, Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. Applications are online
, and at Grace A. Dow Memorial Library reference desk or the City Hall information desk.