2018 Terrell Citizens University participants included: Seated -Rev. James Sears, Gertis Sears, Pat Sparks, Carolyn Wimberly, Pat Martin, Katie Smith, Frances Holmes. Standing – Councilmember Grady Simpson, Carl Holland, Raymond Sparks, Carolyn Spencer, Clint Howie, Lula Edinburgh, Councilmember Charles Whitaker, Xanberlyn McNutt, Councilmember Sandra Wilson, Bhatiti Sanunda, Carol Holland, Marline Ballard and Torry Edwards.
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City of Terrell Mayor D J. Ory and members of the Terrell City Council honored graduates of Terrell Citizens University during a ceremony September 13 at the City of Terrell Service Center upon completion of an engaging seven-week program.
Human Resources Director Carol Holland, facilitator of Terrell Citizens University, opened the evening by congratulating members of the class for their achievement.
“The premise of TCU is to provide citizens with accurate information and collaboration between citizens of Terrell and city staff.”
Holland said she was particularly excited about this year’s class because it marks the 10th year of TCU, an interactive, program in which citizens receive in-depth information about city operations. This year’s class will see the culmination of planning and development which has resulted in astronomical growth both in the city limits and the Extra Territorial Jurisdiction.
During his opening remarks to the graduates, City Manager Torry L. Edwards told the group, ‘This is a proud day. You join more than 200 graduates who are now diplomats for the City of Terrell.”
Edwards then introduced Mayor D. J. Ory, adding that the mayor has made TCU a top priority during his tenure.
Mayor Ory thanked the city’s Human Resources Department for organizing the event.
Calling the graduates “ambassadors,” Mayor Ory told the group, “You are among the growing ranks of those who are knowledgeable about the workings of City Hall.”
Ory said participants are fortunate because Terrell is one of the few cities in the state that actually offer this type of program to its citizens.
Graduates enjoyed a meal catered by Kountry Kitchen before receiving diplomas and gifts distributed by the City Manager, mayor and members of the Council.
Remarks by the dozen individuals who completed this year’s program indicated they enjoyed the program because of the wealth of information they were given.
Clent Howie said he was amazed at the transparency of city operations provided through presentations by different departments.
“I feel bad that more people don’t take advantage of it,” he said.
Participant Bhati Sunanda said she learned about many city benefits that she was not aware of prior to the program, such as the $1 cost for CareFlight or the ability to support the animal shelter through deductions on utility bills.
After Ms. Sunanda enrolled, she invited her neighbors, Raymond and Pat Sparks to join her.
Pat said she was in awe of the number of programs offered through the library, citing an animal therapy program for handicapped children as an example.
Raymond said he was shocked by the amount of development, particularly residential developments which include plans for more than 20,000 houses.
Edwards THEN gave participants a brief history of Terrell.
“Terrell was founded in 1873, but adopted its current Council-Manager form of government in 1913. The purpose of that was to build integrity into the governance process,” Edwards said.
Edwards told participants what makes Terrell so unique is that its entire culture is based on partnerships with various entities including the county, TxDOT, the school district, the railroad as well as private partners.
Xan McNutt and her mother Carolyn Spencer, who have completed the program before, said they were amazed at how much change has occurred within the city during just the last couple of years.
Spencer, wife of late councilman Tommy Spencer, said her husband kept her informed of city business, so she thoroughly enjoyed the state of the city address.
Xan said she enjoyed touring the city and looking at all of the new development throughout Terrell’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction .
At the conclusion of the event, participants were presented diplomas along with commemorative shirts, caps and goody bags by the Mayor, the city manager and members of the Council.
The next TCU session is tentatively scheduled for August 2019.