In 2019, I attended Clearwater Citizens Academy and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I learned more about my own city in 10 short weeks than I ever knew was possible.
In 2020, I [strongly] encouraged my husband, Doug, to attend as well. Of course, during COVID, many of the sessions were held virtually, and while they were extremely informative, many of the in-person visits were limited.
How exciting it was to dress up in a fireman’s hat and coat and spray a firehose!
Alas, we were not allowed to slide down the pole – probably a good thing given my natural clumsiness – but we did see where the firemen slept, their movie theater (!) and their huge kitchen, which rivals Julia Child’s.
Attendees peeked at the Clearwater Police Command Center – which few get to see and where no photo-taking was allowed.
We met the City Councilmembers, saw a K-9 demonstration, visited the Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant, vehicle maintenance facility, the Main Library and numerous department heads led tours or gave talks about city departments, such as Communications, Planning & Development,
Solid Waste & Recycling, and so many more.
At the Traffic Department, we viewed the intersection cameras and were given miniature street signs were our names on them. Mine is still proudly displayed in my bedroom.
And the swag bags! Who doesn’t love free stuff? A highly-sought-after Clearwater Citizens Academy polo shirt and spiffy nametag, water bottle, tote bag, pens and pencils were just a few of the items we received.
Best of all, Clearwater Citizens Academy is free. Yes, you heard correctly. There’s no charge to attend!
But you need to act now to register. Only a limited number of residents get to attend each year’s Citizens Academy.
And good news! Applications are now being accepted for the 20th annual Citizens Academy, Clearwater 101, the 10-week program providing Clearwater citizens with a hands-on learning experience about the people, equipment and infrastructure it takes to run Pinellas County’s second-largest city.
The program begins with orientation on Tuesday, September 7 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The sessions that follow will also be on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 8:30 p.m., through graduation in November.
Citizens Academy is an interactive experience for Clearwater residents interested in making a greater impact in their community and being better engaged with their local government. Presentations and tours are led by elected officials, department directors and city staff who share information about the city’s operations and key issues facing Clearwater today. Participants must attend at least eight of the 10 sessions in order to graduate at a City Council meeting in November.
Applications can be completed online at myclearwater.com/citizensacademy. Residents may also request an application by calling (727) 562-4679.
A selection committee will pick the participants from the applications received. The city welcomes all residents of Clearwater to apply and is inclusive of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations and gender identifications.
The committee will judge applications based on responses to questions while ensuring that the class reflects the diversity of the Clearwater community, with representatives from different neighborhoods and sections of the city. For program information or to apply, visit myclearwater.com/citizensacademy.
Applications must be received no later than August 2, so apply now.
Information provided by the City of Clearwater