Town of Manchester offers Government 101 course for residents

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Wed., Aug. 21, 2013
Julian Freund, budget and research officer (standing), addresses a previous session of the town’s Government 101 course. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

For 11 years, the town of Manchester has been offering a course on understanding the operations of the local municipality and town government. Under the auspices of the Neighborhood Academy since 2010, the comprehensive Government 101 course gives residents the opportunity to ask the questions they may have been wondering for a long time: How much does it cost to buy new fire-fighting equipment? How does the youth of Manchester access Youth Services? What does it take to assemble a working financial budget?
Over a 10-week period this fall, participants will get a look at Manchester from the inside out.

“This is our 19th session,” said Tricia Catania, human resources specialist. “It is a program that engages citizens for a better community,” she said. “It’s a whole introduction to local government; budget, water, fire department, police department, planning and zoning, etc.”

During the 10 weeks of courses, which are always free to the public, residents will meet in several difference locations to learn about the water department, fire and rescue, information systems, recreation and probate, amongst other topics.

“We felt that we wanted to educate people about what Manchester has to offer,” said Catania. “So they can understand when we put the budget out; so when taxes go up, they understand why their taxes are going up.”

The Government 101 class is the foundation upon which residents can begin to understand the town better. Each year’s enrollment averages about 25 residents. “We don’t like to turn anybody away,” said Catania. The program has welcomed 400 residents since it began.

Catania feels that those who take the Government 101 course tend to also be the ones who later take on a leadership role in town in some fashion, either through boards and commissions or through volunteer work.

“It’s all about going back to the community,” said Catania. “What does your community have to offer?”

All ages are welcome. The class begins Thursday, Sept. 12, and will run for 10 weeks. To apply to be a part of the class, contact Tricia Catania at 860-647-3102.

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