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Loganville launches city '101'

LOGANVILLE - Tuesday night, Loganville's city officials and staff launched the first "Loganville 101" class, a program designed to educate residents about the nuts and bolts of their government.

Councilman Chuck Bagley spearheaded the effort to develop the curriculum even before he was elected to the council. "This whole program is his brainchild," Mayor Tim Barron said.

The four-night class was developed through the efforts of city staff and a citizens' advisory committee who "put in long hours and a lot of work," City Manager Bill Jones said. Bagley added, "I was pleased to hear members of the citizens' advisory committee say things like, 'I didn't know that,' when we were developing the material for these classes."

Class leaders made use of the city's sophisticated new audio/visual system Tuesday, with Barron explaining the city's council-mayor form of government and how and why it works.

"Many citizens tend to think that the mayor or a council member can just make something happen if they want it to happen. But there are checks and balances in place to ensure a balance of power," Barron said.

Jones spoke about Loganville's history, including such facts as James Harvie Logan's 1842 purchase of 62.5 acres of land for $150 at a sheriff's sale - the land that lies just west of Main Street today. Jones, who used to serve on both the city council and as mayor said, "This is a historic event for the city of Loganville. We believe that the government works best when citizens understand how it works."

Other topics covered Tuesday night were elections, administrative roles and city finance.

Class II will include a tour of the public safety facilities, police and fire department operations and a meeting with a judge.

In Class III, students will tour the public works facilities and water quality plant, and Class IV covers current and future planning and development.

"We have included and plan more hands-on exercises to really make these classes interesting and meaningful," Jones said.

Each student was given a student notebook complete with agendas for all four class nights and supporting information for each topic. The next opportunity for citizens to register and attend Loganville 101 will be next year. Maximum enrollment for the classes will be 35 citizens; more than 20 citizens attended Tuesday night's class.

"We hope to eventually offer the class two times a year if there's a demand for it," Bagley said.

Class leaders are seeking feedback from students through evaluation questionnaires distributed after every class. "We want to know what people liked, didn't like and want to learn more about that maybe we haven't included in this first run," Barron said. Student comments, both positive and negative, will be published on the city's Web site (www.cityofloganville.com) in early September.