By EVAN WADE
Nine Clay County residents hope to come out of a seven-hour program a little wiser this month.
On March 11, the Clay County Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Leadership Academy. The program, which is in its seventh year of operation, will teach participants about the qualities, skills, and goals of a good leader. This year's program will be in the First State Bank Community Room on S.R. 59.
Originally six weeks long, the program has been scaled back to one, seven-hour, seminar this year in the interest of participants' time constraints.
Melissa McCullough, a Chamber of Commerce board member and chair of the Leadership Academy Committee, said that the program should be just as effective.
"It seems like you see the same faces in every community organization," she said. "What we're trying to do is put new blood in these positions, and throughout the community."
This year's program features two segments. The leadership segment will feature Brian Deakins, a local business owner and county commissioner candidate. The second segment, which revolves around public speaking, will be handled by Nancy Ewing of the Clay County School Corporation.
McCullough said that besides the obvious advantages, the program can offer other perks for its $100 fee.
"It's a great way to network," she explained. "A great way to meet your community and get to know some upstanding members."
Among those participating in this year's program is Lynne Llewellyn, general manager of The Brazil Times.
Presenting at the Leadership Academy isn't Deakins' only involvement with the program. He was also a participant years ago.
"I took it in '94, '95, when it was still long," he said. "I found it to be very effective."
Deakins said that he will be speaking on, among other topics, time management, effective leadership skills, and awareness of those skills. There will also be team and leader-building activities.
"We've got a good turnout this year," he said.
Unfortunately, those interested in participating in the Leadership Academy will have to wait until next year. The cutoff date for registration was Feb. 20, though McCullough said that it's never too early to book a spot in next year's event.
"I think it's an excellent program," she said. "It gets people familiar with how the community works and gets them involved in the community."