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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2021 10 months ago

Virtual IntroLBK 2021 class offered to residents

The free classes about town government are offered from March 23-25 on Zoom.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the town  to scrap the live version of its annual Citizens Academy in favor of offering a virtual class later this month.

The town will offer “IntroLBK 2021,” free 90-minute classes set to start at 9 a.m. on March 23-25 on Zoom.

“It’s a great opportunity [for residents] to learn more about their town government,” Town Manager Tom Harmer said.

Harmer said IntroLBK 2021 is a condensed version of the Citizens Academy, which is typically a six-week, in-person class .

“With the pandemic, we’re just not in a position to offer that same type of format, but we didn’t want the year to go by without some opportunity for our residents to learn more about the services that we provide and how we provide them,” Harmer said.

The three-day course will teach residents about the town, how it is structured, what services it provides, how it provides those services and how the town is funded.

“It’s designed in a way that they’ll have a chance to meet some of the staff and department heads in a question-and-answer format,” Harmer said.

Harmer said the first hour of each session will be a presentation, which allows for residents to ask questions in the remaining 30 minutes.

“We've had several members of either P&Z or commission who have either gone through the program or sat through a portion of it,” Harmer said. “I do think it's a great opportunity for anyone that's interested in being more engaged, whether it’s as a commissioner, or an advisory board member, or even a volunteer for the town.”

Harmer said Mayor Ken Schneier and outgoing District 5 Commissioner Ed Zunz attended several of the Citizens Academy sessions in the past. District 2 Commissioner-Elect Penny Gold and Planning and Zoning Board member Jay Plager went through the Citizens Academy, too.

“We always learn something in the class from the students,” Harmer said. “They always have great questions, but they may have experienced something or have a question we haven’t thought about before or in a long time.”

To register or to find out information about this year’s program, email Susan Phillips at [email protected] with your name, Longboat Key address and phone number. Residents can also call the Town Manager’s Office at 941-316-1999 and ask for Phillips.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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