Extension service outlines government education series

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

The University of Illinois Extension Local Government Information & Education Network and the Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners are currently offering a local government education series addressing issues impacting counties and communities in Illinois. 

The education series is broadcast over a statewide audio-teleconference system through Illinois County Extension offices and other partnering locations.  This is an eight part monthly tele-institute series starting in September and ending in April 2012, the sessions are held 3-5 p.m. the third Thursday of each month.     

The topic on Sept. 15 will be on the “Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Training.”

Open, honest and accountable government, the cornerstone of a democracy, can be achieved only through the free and open exchange of information between government and the public. In Illinois, our most important transparency laws — the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act — endeavor to open the workings of government to the public, shed light on government actions and, in the process, strengthen our democracy.  

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office will present training and tools required for implementing this foundational policy at the local level.  

During the Oct. 20 presentation attendees will explore “Redistricting:  Statewide and National Trends for County Board Resizing.”  

Recent census data has revealed population and growth shifts away from Illinois requiring a redistricting to reduce the number of Illinois members of the US House of Representatives.  

As one of the most diverse states, this redistricting presents several challenges.  

This workshop will review Illinois’ shifting demographics and how the redistricting will affect future legislation, county management and the citizens of Illinois.  

“Legislative Update,” will be the topic for Nov. 17.  

Following the state legislature’s veto session, local government legislative liaisons will discuss recent and potential future changes in legislation at the state and federal levels that will have a direct impact on Illinois local governments.  

With a question and answer session following each presentation, participating officials will have opportunities to discuss impact and intent to develop a better understanding of mandated expectations.  

The final fall session will be Dec. 15 discussing “GIS/GEOSPATIAL.”  

Geographic Information System are powerful tools, with a wide variety of uses for county governments. During this tele-institute participants will learn how GIS mapping software can be utilized to increase the efficiency of government operations.  

In addition, participants will hear about how GIS is being implemented in support of statewide broadband mapping, outreach, and adoption efforts.

Spring sessions include:  “Privatization/Intergovernmental Agreements,” on Jan. 19; “The Importance of Broadband for Community Survival and How E-Government is Changing the Way Services are Being Provided,” on Feb. 16; “Obstacles and Opportunities that Special Structure Assessment Present,” on March 15; and “Siting and Permitting Wind Farms in Illinois – Lessons Learned from Local Officials,” on April 19.

Attendees that are enrolled in the Certified County Officials Program can receive two hours of general credit for each session they attend.  

If interested in participating in these educational programs or for further information, contact Aimee Ingalls, University of Illinois Extension Community & Economic Development Educator at 815-842-1776 or by email at  aingalls@illinois.edu.