The Vermillion Rotary Club held its weekly luncheon meeting on Tuesday, July 13, at the Neuharth Media Center on the campus of USD. President John Prescott opened the meeting and led us in the invocation and recitation of the Rotary 4-Way Test. This was followed by a round of singing, introduction of guests, and announcements.
President Prescott introduced Evelyn Johnson as our speaker for the day. Ms. Johnson works for the city administration office and is originally from Watertown. Her presentation was about a program called the "Citizens Academy." The purpose of the Citizens Academy is to familiarize Vermillion citizens with the government of the city of Vermillion.
The first session took place last fall, and 20 people applied for the class. The format was three hours per week for five weeks. Each session included information exchange, discussion, and tours or participation in various demonstrations. The first session dealt with the foundation of local government. This included comments from various government officials and question and answer sessions.
The second session was concerned with the business of water. This session dealt with where our water comes from, how it is treated and distributed, what wastewater is and how it is treated. The participants also went on a tour of various facilities dealing with each type.
The third session dealt with dispatch, planning, and recycling. This included touring emergency communications, explanation of the origin and development of curb recycling, and city planning methods. The fourth session dealt with light and power, street maintenance, and engineering.
They were shown how all the different departments work together to provide a smooth-running city with an emphasis on teamwork. They were also appraised about current and upcoming projects. They were also given details and rationale concerning the new electrical transmission lines being built.
The fifth session was entitled "In the Line of Duty." The students were able to tour the fire department, try on the various pieces of equipment, and offered a ride-along with the city police. Several students took advantage of that opportunity. The students had homework every week including reading articles concerning upcoming subjects. Each participant received a "Degree in Governmentology."
Some of the students expressed interest in participating in local government. Ms. Johnson told us that another class will be held this fall, and that any who would like to participate should get in touch with her at city hall.