The Inside Rock Hill course is a 10-week educational experience concerning the inner workings of the City of Rock Hill.
Though the course has been around since February 2004, there have been no formal advertisements published concerning its existence. With that said, just through word of mouth, the course’s twenty-five seats are easily filled well before its start date. With nearly 500 graduates to date, this course’s reputation continues to grow exponentially.
City residents, or those owning a business within the city limits, may complete an online application at any time, and will be selected on a first come, first served basis.
The course is offered bi-annually, in the Spring and Fall. Purposed with providing an in-depth understanding to citizens concerning the services provided by the City of Rock Hill, the course typically results in an increased quality of life for its participants.
I became abreast of the Inside Rock Hill course when I applied to the Human Relations Committee in February of 2014. Though there were no vacancies at that time for the committee, the application asked if I was a graduate of the Inside Rock Hill course. After researching the course, I decided to sign up for two reasons, 1) I was interested and 2) I believed that the completion of the course would make any of my future applications concerning the City of Rock Hill more complete.
My efforts were not in vain as in March of 2014 the Human Relations Committee, Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee and No Room for Racism Committee were combined to form the Community Relations Council, of which there became an opening that was so deemed suitable for me. Furthermore, the Inside Rock Hill course, which I eventually attended in September of 2014, proved to be a great resource, which this publication is purposed with expounding upon.
Additionally, I further discovered that I had stumbled upon a gateway that had already been proven. Nearly 60 individuals currently serving on one of the City of Rock Hill’s Boards, Commissions or affiliates has completed the Inside Rock Hill course, 40 of which elected to do so after completing the course.
If you plan to attend the course, understand that there is a participation requirement requisite of graduating the course. Your participation in each class is valued at ten points and the requirement for graduation is the accumulation of one hundred points.
The scheduled classes occurred once a week, on Thursdays, when I attended. The attainment of the required points is met by attending each of the ten scheduled classes, or through attending other city meetings and/or events during the time-frame of the course. To graduate with honors you must accumulate one hundred and forty points, thus attendance at extra curricula meetings (which are worth twenty points) is necessary.
For those who graduate, you are invited to join a Facebook Group for alumni in order to keep in touch. Additionally, throughout the year, graduates are invited to various Open House events, the alumni reunion (typically held the last Thursday in July) and more.
If you’re still wondering if this course is for you, I can attest to its utility across a diverse population, as in my particular course, ages ranged from recent college graduates to senior citizens, backgrounds differed and so did culture and ethnicity. Yet and still, responses to the course were positive and significant bonds were formed between the classmates.
Because the course content and locations of classes are subject to changes, understand that I am writing about my personal experience, which may differ from your own. Additionally, all content herein represents my personal views and is not, in any capacity, official communication by the City of Rock Hill.
These are the eight locations I visited which hosted the classes during my course. Please note that you are responsible for your travel to and from these locations.
- Housing and Neighborhood Services – 150 Johnston Street
- Municipal Court – 120 East Black Street
- Operations Center – 757 South Anderson Road
- Police Department – 120 East Black Street
- Fire Department – 214 Elizabeth Lane
- Rock Hill – York County Airport (Bryant Field) – 550 Airport Road
- Manchester Meadows – 337 East Mount Gallant Road
- Council Chambers at City Hall – 155 Johnston Street
I heard presentations from the following entities, which were typically between the hours of 6-9PM:
- City Management
- Budget and Finance Department
- Court (Municipal)
- Economic and Urban Development
- Housing and Neighborhood Services
- Hometown Security
- Police Department
- Fire Department
- Rock Hill – York County Airport
- Planning and Development Services
- Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT)
- Human Resources
- Property Maintenance
- Public Works
- City Mayor
- Public Affairs
Expect to hear from a host of individuals who represent your city, all possessing their own set of unique qualities. You’ll experience the witty, entertaining, intellectual, and passionate. If you are a business-minded or networking professional, or perhaps have your sights on a position within the City, it is advised that you take the opportunity to shake hands and speak with as many city representatives as you can. If you have a business card, it’s a relevant opportunity for an exchange.
Following the classes, attempt to connect with these leaders through social media platforms such as LinkedIn…they’ll likely remember the interaction and appreciate your having participated in the class. On an even brighter side, food is catered or prepared for each (nearly three hour) class session and is provided free of charge. Furthermore, my final class included a potluck dinner which was attended by the Major and other city representatives. If you make a special dish or are limited in your culinary genius, make sure to get a hold of the signup list early. I’ve heard that these dinners are always good, so expect to be in for a treat.
There was an abundance of information shared from a variety of sources of which a large portion was new to me. Each person will value the presentations differently, but I suggest attending as many classes as possible, as the best information was sprinkled throughout.
Personally I learned a great deal, but here are a few notes that have already proved useful: There is free paint at the sixteen Convenience Centers in York County, looks may be deceiving concerning what may be perceived as recyclable, the Airport has a conference room which can be reserved, Cherry Park is nationally recognized as a softball mecca, the Giordana Velodrome is a world-class facility which is globally recognized, Neighborhood Empowerment provides trash bags and grabbers to groups who want to clean up litter throughout the city, PRT coordinates grants up to five hundred dollars which are available to local youth organizations, PRT provides Therapeutic Recreation tailored to children and adults with disabilities, the term “Circuit Solicitor” is unique to South Carolina and is analogous to positions in other jurisdictions such as State’s Attorney and District Attorney, as well, there are free and low-cost programs and/or departments organized by the city that help businesses develop and find suitable locations for operation, assist homeowners with renovations, collect small or large yard debris and household waste, install smoke detectors and change batteries…truly the list goes on.
Lastly, my personal favorite, it’s not just a course you take to be able to say you’ve taken it. It’s a membership. As an Inside Rock Hill graduate you become a member of a distinguished group of volunteers.
The graduates are awarded inside knowledge pertaining to volunteer opportunities around the Rock Hill community. It is through volunteering that the graduates collectively display the greatest impact and influence. You are presented a polo shirt upon graduation that is embroidered with the Inside Rock Hill logo, which you are encouraged to wear when volunteering. For some graduates, these shirts evoke a sense of pride, and so it should. The individuals who don them have taken their personal time, no matter how limited, to complete a volunteer course and become ambassadors for the City.
Participation in the volunteer endeavors further signifies their commitment to the betterment of themselves, the Rock Hill community and humanity at-large.
If you cannot attend the Inside Rock Hill course, or are prepping yourself for intellectual debate at an upcoming class, I recommend reviewing the City’s Accountability Updates. Here you will gain a wealth of knowledge concerning the City’s plans, performance and spending habits.
As a graduate of, and advocate for, the Inside Rock Hill course, I suggest that if you have the time and interest, apply today!
Jordache Williams is a resident and local business owner in Rock Hill, SC. His first glance at Rock Hill was obtained while attending Winthrop University near the turn of the 21st century. After an eight-year enlistment in the U.S. Army, he settled down in Rock Hill with his wife Jessica and daughter Gia. He enjoys sharing his local experiences as a way of promoting mental & physical health.