Four Lake County mayors were recognized Monday for their efforts to increase their knowledge of municipal government.
Crown Point Mayor David Uran and Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura received gold certificates from the Mayor's Institute, a quarterly seminar for local government leaders in Indianapolis.
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. received a silver certificate, and Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor received a bronze.
Elected executives received the award based on the number of courses completed through the Mayor's Institute within two years. Each course lasts a day and a half and teaches municipal government management strategies.
A gold certificate is awarded after completing at least 10 courses. A silver results from at least six courses, and bronze recipients covered four courses.
"The mayors who earn these certificates are dedicated to continuing education and participating in conversations that provide ideas and solutions to challenges that our cities are facing," said Matt Greller, executive director and CEO of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, which hosts the recognition.
The Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs also sponsors the program. The institute started in 2008.
Stahura said the real value is in an opportunity for elected leaders across the state to collaborate, connect and share ideas to solve problems.
"You can literally take a problem down to Indianapolis and talk to 30 to 40 mayors," Stahura said. "It's almost certain that someone in the room has dealt with that same problem."
Because elected officials start at the top when they come into office, they don't have as many people to talk with to find solutions. Stahura said without the institute meetings, he would be left making cold calls to different experts.
"There's really no recurring training for mayors before they started this," Stahura said.
The networking between city mayors allows them to have people to talk with outside of the quarterly sessions, Uran said.
"It opens doors with mayors across the state," Uran said, "especially with cities that are the same size. It's nice to have them on speed dial. You can reach out to these mayors and get help any time."