How it works

Nashua is opening the government for residents

Telegraph photo by MATHEW PLAMONDON Lori Wilshire, president of the Nashua Board of Aldermen, oversees a recent meeting in the Aldermanic chamber. Wilshire, along with other city officials, will take part in Nashua City Academy this spring. The classes, set for Mondays from March 4 to June 3, will teach 50 residents about many facets of the city.

NASHUA – In March, residents in Nashua will have the opportunity to step inside the workings of the city.

Beginning March 4 and culminating with a June 3 workshop the first 50 individuals to sign up for the Nashua City Academy will learn how things work throughout the city. That workshop is set for Nashua Fire Alarm Division, 38 Lake St.

Those who participate will able to meet with city officials from all the different departments, starting with the Mayor Jim Donchess and the Board of Aldermen President Lori Wilshire. They will initiate the classes with a workshop that will discuss the process of getting involved in the local government and city functions.

This is the third year for the program, and city Chief of Staff Kim Kleiner said the first two years resulted in positive outcomes.

With those of all ages enrolling in the program, Kleiner said not only have the classes helped people learn more than they previously knew about city functions, but some individuals have even “graduated” into official roles for the city.

“We’ve had a few people who have been in the academy, who have gone into roles on city boards,” Kleiner said.

Last year, Paul Janampa took the classes. He credits the academy with steering him in the right direction by helping him determine how to become involved within the city. In the year after, he has found himself as a board member of My Brother’s Keeper, as well as being a member of the Cultural Connections Committee.

“I was interested in getting involved before,” Janampa said, “and going through the city academy helped me to see where I would like to put my time and energy.”

After completing the program, Janampa said he gained a deeper understanding of how different departments in the city work, along with insight into new and innovative ideas being implemented.

Something that Janampa said he was highly impressed by was the commitment the city officials made teaching residents about their respective departments.

“I really appreciate it, how each of the departments took time out of their day to meet face-to-face with citizens on the evening,” Janampa said.

This is a luxury that Kleiner said isn’t always afforded to every resident.

“It’s not often a citizen gets to meet with the building manager,” Kleiner said as an example of the intimacy of the classes.

One example of what those attending will get out of the class, Kleiner said, is how city officials work through some of their duties. This will include the Economic Development workshop, which has previously featured Director Tim Cummings leading the class through a planning exercise.

“We want citizens to have a better understanding of what the city divisions do,” Kleiner added.

Kleiner said the classes, which take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. every Monday from the beginning of March to June 3, will span every department. Those who make it through the program will be honored with a certificate of participation upon graduating after the last class, which members of Nashua Fire Rescue will teach.