May 23, 2018
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State taps Ellsworth for civics program

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The city has been selected to participate in a pilot program run by the Maine Municipal Association designed to increase awareness and interest in local government.

The goal of the program is threefold, according to Michael Starn, the director of communications and educational services for MMA: to increase citizens’ understanding of local government and increase participation, which will lead to an increased appreciation for what local government does.

“We hope to get people more involved and to gain an appreciation of what local government means in their daily lives,” Starn told city councilors earlier this week.

The logo for the project is “Local government begins with you,” and it involves five communities chosen from those who applied from around the state. In addition to Ellsworth, the pilot program will include the communities of Liberty, Milford, Saco and St. Albans. The communities are a representative group that includes two towns with council forms of government and three towns with town-meeting forms of government, Starn said.

The idea is to take at least one person from each community and to work on an issue the town would like to address, he said. The program will offer the services of a marketing coordinator through MMA who will help the participating communities with their particular issues.

City Manager Michelle Beal applied to be a part of the pilot project as a way to increase interest in the city’s boards and committees.

“We’ve had some difficulty in getting people to serve on boards; I thought that might be something to work on,” she said. “I’m very excited about this. I’m hoping to get some very good ideas.”

Councilors approved the city’s participation in the program, which comes at no cost to Ellsworth. Councilor Gary Fortier said the program logo could be used on the city’s Web site to link residents to a list of open positions on boards and committees and other opportunities to participate in local government.

If the pilot project is successful, Starn said MMA plans to offer it to other communities throughout the state.

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