Leadership Troup participants were given an overall education in the working of local government and civic organizations during this month’s full-day workshop.
Last Monday, the participants started their day at the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, then walked over to City Hall and finished in the afternoon at the Corn Auditorium an the LaGrange College Campus.
Leadership Troup is a program that is sponsored by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce that is designed to give leaders and potential leaders opportunities to explore and experience various aspects of the community. The program seeks to include individuals from diverse backgrounds but they must live and/or work in Troup County and must be nominated by a firm, organization or individual. The goal of the program is to prepare individuals to become leaders in the community.
The program is composed of an orientation, a retreat and six classes and 100 percent attendance is mandatory. Monday was the first of the six classes, it was entitled “Civic Engagement Session.”
A panel of civic club leaders greeted the participants and gave an overview of the details of their organizations. Lions Club President Bill Kuerzi, spoke to the group first, followed by the Rotary Club President Charis Acree, the Kiwanis Club President Joyce Ellis with the Junior Service League President-elect Allison Arrington speaking last. The members of the panel told the participants of their service projects and how their different clubs run their meetings but the common message that all of the speakers communicated to their audience was simple, “volunteer, get involved in the community.”
Participants in Leadership Troup are encouraged to get to know each other and learn to work together as a united team. The group is responsible for planning, developing and completing a community project before the end of the program. The retreat that the group takes together in September is an integral part in the formation of a cohesive, productive team.
Lucinda Person was nominated to the program through Kimberly Clark, her place of employment.
“It’s a lot of fun, different from what I had anticipated. I never had been at city council meetings so it was very informative,” Person said.
“Getting to know each of the people in our group has been great, we have a great time,” she said.
Jessica Holstrun, a media specialist in Troup County Schools, was nominated to be part of the program through the school system.
“The program is very interesting. You learn how the community operates and it gives you an appreciation of what a great community we have,” Holstrun said.
Richard Williams, from Proctor and Gamble, also appreciates the experience that being a participate of Leadership Troup is giving him.
“So far, its been great. It gives you an understanding of the different things that LaGrange has to offer and an opportunity to meet and understand different people,” Williams said.
Leadership Troup Board members Mitch Key, Katie VanSchoor and Ashley McCoy were responsible for the orchestration of the day and did an excellent job in exposing the program’s participants to an impressive array of speakers and activities.
After the civic panel the group was given a presentation by Troup County Center for Strategic Planning Executive Director Kay Durand and then they walked over to City Hall to witness a LaGrange City Council work session. The group then met for lunch at the Pitts Dining Hall at LaGrange College.
After lunch, the participants reconvened in Smith Hall for two presentations. The first presentation was given by Servant Leadership. The next presentation was given by past Leadership Troup classes. This gave the current participants an opportunity to hear about past community projects that were done by these classes and time to discuss possible community projects that they could do.
The final session of the day was held at Corn Auditorium with a lively panel discussion with four city and county representatives. LaGrange Mayor Jeff Lukken, Troup County Board of Commission Chairman Ricky Wolfe, West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson and Hogansville City Council Member Jack Leidner were present and gave the Leadership Troup participants clear and concise views of their roles in their individual areas and how they all work together at the county level.
Lukken told the group of how in the past the lack of communication and cooperation between the city and the county created unnecessary problems for the taxpayer. Lukken gave credit to Wolfe for helping to bring the leaders of the local cites and county together forming a more cohesive unit. Lukken said,”If I was to pick out any one single thing that makes a difference in how we govern it would be that we all get along and we try to emphasize, put ourselves in their shoes and work together.”
While addressing the group, Wolfe also gave examples of how hard it was in the past to have problems resolved between city and county officials but praised the current leaders for how well they work together.
“These relationships lead to a true benefit that has an impact on you, as a tax payer,” Wolfe said
Ferguson told the participants that if they are thin-skinned or are bothered by criticism, they should not go into politics and gave his opinion on what makes a good candidate.
“If you say, ‘I want to make my community a better place,’ and then look to see how you can do that, to be concerned about more than one issue, that ‘s what makes a person a better candidate,” Ferguson said.
Leidner rounded out the panel by saying that being a leader was a matter of focus and that you have to think of everything that you can and then “see what sticks to the wall, ” he said.
“We are all in this together, different communities are really just different neighborhoods,” Leidner said.
The day concluded in the Corn Auditorium after the panel discussion was open up to a question and answer segment.