Leaders delve into community

FAIRMONT – Wednesday was a crash course in local government for those enrolled in the Leadership Martin County class.

The 25 participants spent the day learning the roles of city and county government officials, and their relationship to the rest of the community.

“This is our third year doing this, and each year, I still learn more stuff,” said Bob Wallace of the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a great way to learn how the system works.”

Leadership Martin County runs from September through May each year, with the first Wednesday of each month being a class day.

“Each day is dedicated to a different segment of the community,” Wallace said. “We’ve had a day dedicated to education, an economic development day. We’ll have a health care day, an ag day, public safety; we address all the facets of the community.”

The program is based on a similar one used in Austin, Albert Lea and Owatonna, and is facilitated by Riverland Community College.

“We have a countywide program, which is nice,” Wallace said. “The other programs are focused on their city.”

As participants learn how each facet of the community functions, they also learn how the different entities work together.

There also are segments for participants to learn skills needed in leadership.

“We limit the class to about 25 participants, and we had to turn some away this year,” Wallace said. “At the beginning of the year, we will begin accepting applications for next year’s class.”

While there is a fee for the class, Wallace said that in many instances it can be picked up by the participant’s place of employment, or in the case of non-profits there is a discount.

“We have four main sponsors that help us put this on,” Wallace said. “I’ve been really pleased with how it’s been going. We’re helping develop future community leaders and developing those community and leadership skills.”