If you have an interest in what your local government is doing, how policies and laws are made and how tax dollars are being spent locally, you have some of the right stuff to be a trained observer at local government meetings.

The Observers, a newly-formed joint project of the League of Women Voters of Licking County and The Reporting Project, is looking for new members to be the eyes and ears of the Licking County community at meetings of the county commissioners, school boards, city and village councils and township trustees.

Notes reflecting what the observers see and hear at meetings will be posted online so that anyone can access them and know what happened at the meetings. Similar projects are operating in other communities. In Geauga County, for example, the League of Women Voters Observer Corps sustains a robust report on local meetings. And the Documenters program is doing similar work in nine cities, including Cleveland. 

The Observers project builds upon the work of the Observer Corps established several years ago by the League of Women Voters of Licking County. The corps’ purpose has been to contribute to public knowledge about local government, learn about and follow important issues, and promote transparency in government, all in service to the local common good. “These purposes remain, and now information reported by observers will be shared broadly with the public and local media,” said League members Lyn Robertson and Karen Semer.

The Observers project is recruiting more observers to attend meetings in communities across Licking County and training them to be keen and accurate observers.

To that end, the nonpartisan League of Women Voters and The Reporting Project will hold an informational meeting and training session from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17, in downtown Newark. The meeting and workshop will be held at NEWORK Space, 14 N. Park Place. Sandwiches and soda will be provided. 

The workshop will be led by working journalists from The Reporting Project, including Jack Shuler, director of the Journalism Program at Denison University; Alan Miller, the former Columbus Dispatch executive editor who teaches journalism at Denison; and Julia Lerner, the managing editor of The Reporting Project. The training will help current and future observers learn journalistic skills that will enable them to report the actions of local government bodies in ways that will be beneficial to residents of Licking County.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Observer Corps and the training, please sign up at this link by Oct. 13: bit.ly/observers-project