March 3, 2023 | News

Ringgold council members Bomar, Swaney earn Certificates of Excellence

Writer: Tamara Wolk

Published March 3, 2023
Catoosa Walker News

Two Ringgold City Council members, Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Bomar and Councilwoman Rhonda Swaney, have earned certificates from the Harold F. Holtz Training Institute, a cooperative effort of the Georgia Municipal Association and the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Bomar has earned a Certificate of Excellence for reaching the third level of continuing education available to officials and Swaney has earned a Certificate of Achievement for reaching the second level. There are a total of five levels.

When an elected council member first takes office in Georgia, he or she is required to take six hours of training. That training, says Swaney, consists mostly of ethics, how executive sessions work, channels of command, and information about the type of government they have been elected to.

But, say both Bomar and Swaney, that barely touches everything there is to learn and everything that's available through the GMA and its partnership with the various institutes that offer training through the University of Georgia.

Bomar has now completed 120 hours of the total 276 available and Swaney has completed 69. The continuing education is paid for by the City of Ringgold.

Bomar and Swaney both say they love taking the courses, maybe, they say, because they are both educators.

Many of the courses can be taken online and that was necessary during the pandemic. But Swaney and Bomar both agree they prefer taking them in-person for the benefits of networking with leaders from all over the state.

"I like learning from others' successes and mistakes, from tossing ideas back and forth," says Bomar. Bomar says he keeps records of what council members across the state are doing so he can turn to them for advice or their experience if Ringgold is facing something similar.

Swaney also maintains ties with leaders she meets at conferences and during classes. "I love the training because it makes me a better council person, but so does the networking and having a network of people doing work like I'm doing, people I can learn from."

One of the early things Swaney says she learned was that some things she was saying during her campaign were simply not realistic. "I didn't know what I was talking about some of the time and I had to go back and apologize and correct myself."

Bomar and Swaney both plan to continue to take classes and learn more.

Classes taken by Ringgold council member/mayor pro tem Kelly Bomar Kelly Bomar was elected to the Ringgold City Council in 2017 and re-elected in 2021. In addition to being a council member, he is a music teacher at West Side Elementary School and a real estate agent at Real Agents Realty. Conflict Resolution Economic Development Human Resources Making Citizen Engagement Work in Our Communities Municipal Finance Municipal Taxation 101 — The Basics Open Meetings/Open Records Planning and Zoning Practices for Successful Meetings Building Community Capacity Through Tourism Capital Improvement Program Creating a Downtown Renaissance Downtown Development Authority Basic Training Economics of Education Effective Practices for Municipal Operations Entrepreneur Friendly Cities Excellence in Customer Service Local Government Debt Methods 101 Municipal Annexation: Growing Pains and Growth Spurts Municipal Taxation 102 Recreation and Parks — Building Communities

Classes taken by Ringgold council member Rhonda Swaney Rhonda Swaney was elected to the Ringgold City Council in 2019. In addition to being a council member, she is a speech therapist for Dalton City Schools. Municipal Finance Municipal Water and Wastewater Systems Open Meetings/Open Records Public Policy Development & Implementation Roles and Responsibilities of Council and Staff Beyond the Beltway Building Community Capacity Through Tourism Capital Improvement Program Downtown Development Authority Basic Training Human Trafficking: Georgia's Role and Response Law Enforcement Services — Trends and Best Practices New & Emerging Technology Revitalizing Neighborhoods — Tools for Local Officials Robert E. Knox, Jr. Municipal Leadership Institute