A group of more than sixty Junior ROTC students from around Jackson County got a lesson in county government Tuesday morning at the Jackson County Courthouse.
The County Youth Government Day Program was presented by the American Legion to give high school students an insight on the workings of government on a local level.
Sidney Malone with American Legion Post 149 said, “We hope this program can be the key to getting our young people interested in local government. This may be the only contact some of these students will have with the people who govern our counties. No other program takes students into the offices and shows them what goes on in those offices.”
County Executive Frank White, Jr., gave the students a brief history of Jackson County and the purpose of county government.
“When I was appointed to this position it was great for me because it gave me a greater platform to do what I have been doing all of my life and that is helping people and giving back to the community,” White said. “I feel fortunate about where I am and to still be in a position to help people’s quality of life and I think that the county is a great place to be able to do that. When I come to work every day the first thing I ask myself is, what can I do today to make someone’s life better?”
He said working for the county has been and interesting experience. “I say that because when I look at the history of the county it has been here since 1826 and I stand before you now as the first African American to ever hold this position. That is one of those things that I find amazing. I think it is special because I want you to look at me as the guy who doesn’t have a college degree but a guy who genuinely cares about his community. Cares about doing the right thing.”
Associate Circuit Judge Janette Rodecap explained to the group how the Sixteenth Circuit Court System works.
“This is a really diverse county,” she explained. “We are very urban but we also have a very rural part. We have different types of crime. We have different cases that end up being brought so with all of that diversity it is kind of a challenge for the court system to be one cohesive whole, but we are.”
She detailed the responsibilities of the judges and the variety of cases that are handled in the courts.
“One thing I really like about the job is that there is so much diversity involved and you are always doing something different and of course each individual case is very different,” she said.
Rodecap also stressed the importance of jury duty and answered questions about a variety of cases she has been involved in.
Legislative Chairperson Theresa Galvin detailed the workings of the county legislature and some of the projects currently being developed.
In her second term on the legislature Galvin said she is proud of the work that she has done. “We have worked together with the county executive and tried to do go things for the community.”
One of the things that she is pushing to get through the legislature is an ordinance against distracted driving. “It is something we can do for the community to make everybody just a little bit safer.”
Galvin sees her role as chairperson as the person on the legislature who interacts with other elected officials. “We have the county executive, the prosecuting attorney, the sheriff and the courts. For me it is important that we have a good working relationship.”
She also urged the students to get involved with the community and with government on all levels.
Parks + Rec Director Michele Newman also gave a presentation on all of the things Jackson County Parks has to offer.
Junior ROTC cadets from 10 different high schools attended including: Central, Chrisman, East, Lee’s Summit North, Lincoln, Northeast, Ruskin, Southeast, Truman and Van Horn.