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This January, Peoria County unveils its new Civic Leadership Program and offers its citizens a unique, hands-on opportunity to learn more about county government history, structure, funding, and services. The Civic Leadership Program is a series of educational sessions that showcase the different entities within county government. During its strategic planning process, the Peoria County Board identified this initiative as a high-priority agenda item for 2005. This new leadership program exemplifies all that county government has to offer and reflects the board’s strategic goals of partnering for success with our citizens and other governments, as well as delivering quality services to our citizens in a professional manner.

The Civic Leadership Program is an excellent opportunity for citizens to meet and interact with their board representatives and elected officials, as well as county department supervisors. The program is intended to inspire area residents to take a more active role in guiding future policy decisions, be it through the election process, by voicing concerns during public meetings, or by running for public office themselves. Ultimately, the course will create a network of citizens who possess a commitment to improving their community and who demonstrate the necessary skills to emerge as Peoria County leaders.

This comprehensive course has been created and structured to raise public awareness of the services and opportunities Peoria County government has to offer all of its citizens. Course exercises include a mock jury selection, a mock property assessment to demonstrate the tax cycle, and a mock “table top” exercise to demonstrate the county’s involvement in disaster preparedness planning. During the course, presentations will be given on important health concerns, county growth and infrastructure, and legislative issues currently affecting Bel-Wood Nursing Home. Participants also will be able to tour Bel-Wood, the county jail, the Juvenile Detention Center, the Emergency Services and Disaster Agency, and the Peoria City/County Health Department. All leadership sessions will be presented by the highest ranking official or department supervisor.

Participants meet two evenings each month, beginning with the program’s initiation at January’s County Board meeting. Meeting locations vary, depending on that evening’s agenda, ranging from the Sheriff’s Office for discussion of public safety issues to the Peoria County Courthouse for a preview of the new voting system. Eleven sessions are scheduled during the five-month course; eight must be attended for successful completion and graduation. The course concludes with the May 2006 board meeting. Participation is limited to 20 citizens, to be determined through an application process.

Free to all participants, we encourage interested residents within Peoria County, high school age and above, to consider enrolling in this program as it will define the realities and challenges currently impacting local county government and, consequently, our community. For an application or to review the program schedule, visit our web site at www.peoriacounty.org. IBI

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