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In touch with local government
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As we enter November, we are concluding two of Dawson County's very successful programs for the year.

The third annual Dawson County Citizens Academy graduated 24 participants on Nov. 1. The 10 week program gives participants an in-depth look at how their local government operates.

This year's graduates attended three hours each Tuesday night for 10 weeks.

They listened to not only classroom instruction, but also participated in some hands on exercises and learning.

They were able to put out a fire at the Emergency Services Training Facility and toured several county facilities including the Dawson County Detention Center. These residents were also the first group to be able to receive a tour of the new Dawson County Government Center and courthouse. I believe I can speak for the group when I tell you they were impressed.

The citizens attending this year's program came from a variety of backgrounds and ages.

I encourage all of our residents to take advantage of this opportunity.

We are currently accepting names for the fourth annual class that will begin late next summer. If you are interested in attending or receiving additional information, you can contact me directly.

The second program that just ended is our BEST program -Building Educated Students for Tomorrow. This is the second year the program has been taught by your Dawson County Government staff at our local high school.

BEST is taught as part of the approved curriculum in the ninth grade social studies class. The program was designed by Dawson County but is now being adopted by other local governments across the state.

It was created to ensure that our students have an understanding of how their local government functions prior to leaving high school. The students get the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers about all aspects of Dawson County Government. The program is taught over a couple of months and totals 24 separate classes.

The students also get to take two field trips during the program; one to the Dawson County Law Enforcement Center and the other to Emergency Services Station No. 7.

During the final week of BEST the Board of Elections taught the students about the process of how they conduct elections. The students then had the opportunity to actually run for a local office.

The election was conducted by the Voter Registrar and the winners were announced.

This year's BEST program concluded with a graduation on Oct. 17 with 34 students receiving certificates of completion.

The next classes are scheduled to start in the spring.

The BEST program was recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine and the Association of County Commissioners in 2010 and it led to Dawson County Government receiving the County of Excellence Award from the state.

We are proud of the many programs that are offered to all of our citizens.

If you are interested in learning more about these or other programs, you can contact me directly or Cathy Brooks at (706) 344-3501.

We are working hard to keep you informed and are here to serve you.

Kevin Tanner is the Dawson County manager.