What does it take to smoothly run a city of more than 35,000 people?
Nineteen members of the Delaware Citizens Academy class of 2019 got detailed answers to that question during 20 hours of education held during nine sessions that started Feb. 7.
The city held a graduation ceremony before the June 10 meeting of Delaware City Council.
In its 10th year, the academy is offered free and allows residents to tour city facilities, meet department heads and become more involved in the community.
The class got to hear from those who lead the city's departments: City Manager Tom Homan, finance director Dean Stelzer, economic-development director Sean Hughes, city attorney Darren Shulman, city engineer and public-works director Bill Ferrigno, fire Chief Jon Donahue, public-utilities director Blake Jordan, parks and natural-resources director Ted Miller, police Chief Bruce Pijanowski and planning director Dave Efland.
City spokesman Lee Yoakum, who coordinated the academy, told council, "We probably had close to 30 staff involved with the academy this year at different departments, and that ranged from supervisors to even our line staff helping out to lead some of the sessions. They all did such a great job, and it's so evident the pride that they take in working for our city and for representing it when they're working with the academy.
"One of the joys I get is watching our department heads interact in such a way that or in ways that we don't often get to see them, either here in council chambers or some other way," Yoakum said. "But when they're with these students they really do a outstanding job, and to them I want to say 'thank you' for all of their hard work and their passion for this class, and you really can see it in each session.
"When I can just introduce a department head or a supervisor and go sit in the back of the class and let them go, for the most part, it says a lot about the great staff we have here."
Yoakum said the graduating class included residents of all four city wards, with one having lived in the city less than a year, and another a resident of nearly 50 years.
Academy topics included new technologies used by the utilities department and intricacies of city operations, ranging from firefighting to the annual budget, Yoakum said.
Participants also provided input that can be used in the city's comprehensive-plan update, he said.
Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle thanked Yoakum for leading the class, saying, "None of this would ever happen without you, without your coordination."
The graduates are Alan Brown, Alycia Ballone, Betty Deel, Betty Schinke, Bill Hanning, Brett Latta, David Rader, Jane Walsh, Lauren Robison, Les Schinke, Lynn Exline, Mallorie Watts, Michele Gatchell, Rich Mercurio, Robert Exline, Ron Waterwash, Sandra Mercurio, Susan Garrett and Vonie DiGenova.
"I so appreciate what we've gone through. It was a very rewarding experience," Waterwash told council.
"From the top down, there are wonderful people here," Mercurio said. "It's incredible what you learn."
The academy has nearly 175 alumni.
Applications for the 2020 Citizens Academy will be available in January.
For more information, call 740-203-1015.