One of the most enjoyable things I did in 2017 was to join the inaugural class of the Rowlett City Academy, made up of 25 people from all walks of life and a range of ages. At the first of ten three-hour sessions, we were presented with notebooks, nametags and T-shirts. Each week there was a pre-class social hour so we could get to know each other. One of the city's goals in holding this academy was to develop a "farm team" of individuals who might like to serve on boards, commissions and even hold seats on the city council. My personal goals were to learn about Rowlett and meet people.
So it began, with presentations about the structure of city government, responsibilities of elected office and the Action Center, which provides citizens with a way to lodge concerns ranging from animal control to potholes. We learned about economic development, including big plans for Bayside, a new resort, business and residential development on the shores of Lake Ray Hubbard, one several huge reservoirs that supply water to North Texas. Then it was on to the more utilitarian aspects of the city: water/waste water, streets and engineering. Planning and zoning, building and code services came next. Our class went on tours of the city parks, fire station and rec center and the library. We learned about police and EMS services and capped the course with information about human resources, the courts, and finance/budgeting. Some of these topics sound mind-numbing, but most were quite engaging. Rowlett's strong city government, a city of 60,000+ people, had been incredibly important in the aftermath of a EF-4 tornado on December 26, 2015 that demolished 300 homes and damaged 1,100 more.
I did make a few new acquaintances and plan to participate in a board or commission once my recovery from spine surgery is further along. Joining the Rowlett Police Academy is also on my bucket list. It came highly recommended by my daughter Hannah, who had a ball participating in it.
The old saying of "think globally, act locally," might apply here. I might not be able to change the world, but maybe I can make things a little better for Rowlett.
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I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.