Classes serve elected officials with busy daytime schedules
Story by Nathan Gregory • Photos by Kevin Hudson
Corey Proctor describes New Augusta as a small town with a big heart.
He would know as well as anyone. He has called the seat of Perry County home for most of his adult life and was elected to serve on its board of aldermen in 2021.
“I was led to public service by my upbringing, which was grounded in faith and the tenets of compassion and love for everyone,” Proctor explains. “I am often reminded of the quote by the late theologian Desmond Tutu: ‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.’ That quote, along with my upbringing, inspired me to public service.
“Public service is not about self but about others,” he adds. “It is about inspiring and transforming the community.”
Since taking office, Proctor has sought to broaden his knowledge of Mississippi municipal codes and state laws, but evenings are the only time he has available during each week, given his day job as a community planner.
He found the Mississippi State University Extension Service’s Center for Government and Community Development to be a vital partner in his pursuit of professional development. The center partners with the Mississippi Municipal League to offer Certified Municipal Official (CMO) professional development courses designed to allow elected officials to learn on their schedule for a reasonable fee.
“MSU Extension has provided a wealth of information that has assisted me in my role as a professional community developer, along with being an alderman,” Proctor says. “I have taken courses that addressed the Open Meetings Act, Robert’s Rules of Order and Procedure Ordinances, MSU Small Town Center programs, and, most recently, a course on technology in government focusing on cybersecurity.”
Dr. Jason Camp, an instructor with Extension’s Center for Government and Community Development, teaches many of the courses Proctor has taken.
“Jason is very knowledgeable and provides ample time for discussion. The information provided is very practical and benefits all who attend. I can truly say the courses have made me a better public servant by focusing more on efficiency, accountability, and being more data-focused,” Proctor says. “He provides an opportunity for dialogue, which allows all participants to share their respective experiences. This networking opportunity leads to increased knowledge of best management practices that can be applied to solve issues, regardless of boundaries.”
Proctor said the CMO program is an important resource for elected officials’ professional development and continuing education.
“The public is trusting us to be their voice and represent them accordingly,” he says. “To do that, we must strive to increase our know-ledge base to represent them effectively. This attainment of knowledge can be heightened and achieved by participation in the innovative programming provided by MSU Extension.”
Camp said he believes New Augusta’s residents have and will continue to benefit from Proctor’s willingness to seek out the instruction provided by the CMO courses.
“The CMO courses provide useful material for local elected officials, but they also allow these officials across the state to network with the Extension staff and each other,” Camp explains. “That interaction and exchange of ideas can lead to informed, innovative decisions that make communities more attractive for existing residents, visitors, and prospective businesses.”