Dottie Anderson Citizens' Academy: HSB 101
It is no secret that citizens across the United States possess little knowledge about their government or its operations. This is particularly true at the local government level. Ironically, residents know least about the level of government closest to them. This paradox can create challenges for local government leaders who try to garner resident buy-in, particularly when addressing complex issues, such as new ordinances, funding capital projects or rezoning decisions. Although articles in the local papers, email blasts, direct mailings, and town hall meetings can help local governments connect with residents, public sector leaders have long sought better methods for promoting engagement and information sharing.
To this end, local government leaders have initiated programs promoting a better understanding of local governments. Variously referred to as Citizen Academies or Leadership Institutes, these programs seek to educate through direct contact with public officials, site visits, and hand on activities. These programs are fairly common throughout Texas and the nation.
In 2016, City Manager Stan R. Farmer developed a Citizens’ Academy for Horseshoe Bay called “HSB 101.” In remembrance of long time Horseshoe Bay resident Dottie Anderson, a spring 2019 graduate, the Academy has now been renamed the Dottie Anderson Citizens’ Academy.
The ninth academy will start this fall on October 7 and run for a total of nine class sessions each Thursday afternoon over 9 weeks until Dec 9, skipping Thanksgiving. Each Thursday from 2 to 4PM a different subject matter of local government will be covered by the City Manager and/or a department head. For example, classes will cover a range of topics from: Fire, Police, Utilities, Finance, Code Enforcement, Development Services, and Municipal Court. The last session is a graduation ceremony. So far, approximately 100 HSB residents have attended eight academies enjoying learning and camaraderie.
Attendees are usually limited to 15, however this fall we will limit the class size to 10 to be able to practice a little more social distancing. If you are interested in learning about your local government and having a little fun in the process, please complete a very short half-page application and submit to Stan Farmer via email. Applicants must be a City of Horseshoe Bay resident with preference given to full-time residents. If there are remaining seats available non-Horseshoe Bay residents may be considered. Emphasis will be given to creating a diverse class from as many different neighborhoods within Horseshoe Bay.
There is an attendance policy for the class to ensure there is a full and dedicated class. Participants missing two or more classes do not graduate. They have the option to make up the classes they missed when the next HSB 101 class takes place. If they make up the sessions, they may graduate with the next class.
During the graduation ceremony, each student is presented with a certificate of completion signed by the Mayor, and a “HSB 101” shirt embroidered with the City logo.
For questions about the Citizens' Academy, please contact City Manager Stan Farmer at 830-598-9940 or via email.