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Citizen participation helps create good government

October 7, 2010

You’re probably aware the Catawba County Board of Commissioners is elected to make decisions on the goals, direction and operation of county government. You may also be aware that the county works under the “commission-manager” form of government, through which the board hires a professional county manager to carry out its directives and oversee day-to-day operations.
What you may not realize is that there’s an important level of county government that directly involves citizens. A government which serves more than 150,000 people and has 16 departments requires a number of committees and boards to help provide various services.
County commissioners make appointments to nearly 40 of these groups. About 220 citizens are appointed in the average year. Commissioners are now seeking citizens interested in offering their time and expertise to one or more of these boards.
The advice and expertise of citizens serving on these boards and committees is invaluable. These volunteers assist commissioners in their decision-making process on a wide variety of topics. This helps insure a continuing government-citizen partnership and helps the county government run more smoothly, as well.
These boards include the Catawba County Board of Adjustment, which hears appeals from citizens regarding zoning ordinance rulings, with the power to change setback requirements and extend special use and non-conforming use permits and variances; the Home and Community Block Grant Advisory Committee, which recommends to Catawba County Social Services and commissioners ways to use grant funds usually earmarked to provide affordable housing; the Library Board of Trustees, which recommends programs, policies and regulations for the operation of the county library system; the Planning Board, Public Health Board, Social Services Board and many more.
I listed a few just so you could see that these boards and committees take in a wide range of subjects. There may not necessarily be openings on those I mentioned at this time. The county keeps an updated file on persons who have indicated a willingness to serve.
If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering for service on one of these boards or committees, call the County Clerk’s Office at (828) 465-8990 and request a Volunteer Information and Interest Sheet or download it from our website, www.catawbacountync.gov/misc/boards/boardapp.asp. Anyone wishing to volunteer should fill out the form and return it. You’ll be asked which board you might be interested in, or the overall area of interest and expertise you’re willing to share with the county.
If you’d like to know more about all the boards and committees organized by Catawba County, give me a call at (828) 465-8464. I’ll be glad to send you a full list of the boards or tell you what they do.
The best government is one in which citizens take an active role. We hope you’ll help make Catawba County government stronger by volunteering to serve on one of these important boards!

Dave Hardin is the public information officer for Catawba County. His column appears int he Thursday edition of The O-N-E.

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