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      Ottumwa Leadership Academy has a new home and a start date

      In a few months, 113 E. Main St. will be the new home for Ottumwa's Leadership Academy.

      The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation has had a busy summer preparing for its first-ever Lead Ottumwa Leadership Academy.

      The program is set to begin on September 20th, and will run until June with once-a-month seminars on different aspects of the Ottumwa community and surrounding areas.

      When the program was in its early conceptual days, the Legacy Foundation hoped to have at least 10 participants. As of now, 17 applicants have been accepted and contacted to participate. Each of them demonstrated a commitment and interest in participating in the program for a variety of reasons.

      "We had four essay questions as part of the application process and it's been interesting reading, one of those was 'why are you taking the leadership academy?', and one was that -- to learn more about Ottumwa and Wapello County," said Brad Little, Executive Director of the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation. "But the other interesting piece of it was, 'so I can become a more engaged citizen'."

      Little said the program was designed not only for residents in the area to become more involved, but also for residents new to the community to learn more about the Ottumwa area. The program will feature a different aspect of the community for a day, every third Thursday of the month, from September to June, and the hope is that it will result in a group of people interested and prepared to take on roles in the community.

      But the preparation doesn't stop there. The Legacy Foundation has also purchased a building to become the new headquarters for the program, at 113 East Main Street in downtown Ottumwa. Refurbishing has already began, and within a few months, the Leadership Academy will have a place to call its own.

      They also have a leader to call its own. Hollie Tometich, of Albia, was hired as the executive director for the academy. Tometich has a background full of leadership and communication skills, has worked at Ottumwa Regional Health Center for the past 15 years and Little said they are looking forward to having her lead the program.

      Applications are being accepted for this year's academy until Friday, August 24. To fill out an application, click here , or email Little at: blittle@orlf.org. Businesses or groups interested in participating in the program by hosting site visits or having speakers talk to the Academy's participants are also encouraged to contact the foundation.

      And if you miss the deadline this time around, don't worry -- the Lead Ottumwa Leadership Academy isn't going anywhere.

      "Our commitment is that this project is here to stay," Little said. "The foundation will fund this for four to five years, and our goal is for this program to go on for as long as its needed in the community."