RIENZI – Six long years of hard work, dedication and study have paid off for Rienzi Mayor Walter Williams who recently completed the training necessary for the Professional Development Level of the Certified Municipal Official (CMO) program from the Mississippi Municipal League.
Graduating on Tuesday, June 23, the Rienzi municipal leader finished with an impressive 142 elective credits.
“The laws change so often that you really have to stay on top of them,” said Mayor Williams who just returned from attending Summer Convention on the gulf coast. “A lot of people think it's all one big party when they go to conferences, but it’s not if you go for the right reasons.”
“It shouldn’t be about partying, sight-seeing or deep-sea fishing,” he added. “You are representing your community when you go and they do keep track of your attendence.”
Required of all mayors, alderman, clerks and other officials, classes typically begin at 8 a.m. and last until 5 p.m.
“You have some degree of free time, but it is mostly at night,” said Williams who wrapped up his Basic certification in 2012 and his Advanced Certification in 2013. “The classes are taught by some of the brightest, most intelligent professors, mayors, engineers and alderman around. So, it is a really great thing.”
Broken up into three certification levels, the MML’s CMO program consists of Basic, Advanced and Professional Development training.
The Basic Level requires 60 hours of training with a focus on the basics of municipal organization, law, finance and land use. Advanced requires an additional 40 hours of training in community and economic development; and Professional Development, which requires another 40 hours of course work while encouraging the improvement of skills such as public speaking, writing and interpersonal communications.
Officials who earn the Professional Development level must have first completed the Basic and Advanced Levels of the program.
"The Professional Development Level of the CMO program gives our municipal leaders the opportunity to focus on personal growth and improvements in leadership skills,” said MML Executive Director Shari T. Veazey. “Those who have completed all three levels of CMO program have made a strong commitment to self-improvement and, as a result, will be more effective municipal leaders."
Having achieved his goal and earning his Professional Development certification, the mayor can now turn his attention to other endeavors.
“I have been blessed this past year,” said Williams who has some really big plans in the works. “I was fortunate to get everything I have applied for and look forward to seeing Rienzi continue to grow and prosper.”
Future plans include the development of a Memorial Park and walking track, the extension of existing sewer lines and the implementation of 12 miles of gas lines which will give residents the option of using natural gas, a cheaper alternative to propane.
Established in 1931, MML represents 293 city, town and village governments in Mississippi. Their mission is to help cities and towns excel through training, lobbying at the state and federal level, and by providing resources and networking opportunities with state, federal and private entities.