This month across the country hundreds of counties are celebrating National County Government Month (NCGM) with outreach events, contests and proclamations, many wrapped around this year’s theme — Smart Justice: Creating Safer Communities. The theme fits nicely with NACo President Chris Rodgers’ 2012–13 “Smart Justice” presidential initiative, which is showcasing innovative county government justice system policies and practices among the nation’s counties.
For example, Gila County, Ariz. is celebrating NCGM by highlighting its county justice programs and services. Public events include county department open houses and an Earth Day poster and essay contest for students in grades K-12. Contest winners will be announced at the Gila County Board of Supervisor’s meeting on May 7, and all entries are being displayed at the courthouse during the month of April.
On April 27, the Gila County will sponsor its Free E-Waste Day. Residents are encouraged to bring any type of electronic equipment, non-vehicle batteries, cell phones, VCRs, CDs, and small and large appliances.
In DeKalb County, Ga., CEO Burrell Ellis kicked off NCGM on April 1 by introducing new Police Chief Cedric Alexander during his oath-of-office ceremony at the DeKalb History Center in downtown Decatur. Following the ceremony, Ellis and Alexander then visited students at Cedar Grove Middle School in Decatur, according to CrossRoadsNews.com.
In Monmouth County, N.J., the library is again sponsoring its highly successful Food For Fines program during NCGM, which forgives library fines in return for food donations to benefit the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
Photo courtesy of Kittias County, Wash.
Kittias County, Wash. Commissioner Mark McClain presents an award for the 2012 coloring contest for grades K-5 held each year during National County Government Month.
According to the Atlantic Highlands Herald, library patrons who have outstanding materials can bring their food items to the circulation desk at each library branch. In return, the libraries will reduce their late book return fee fines by $1 for every food item donated. Separate bins will be placed in the libraries for people who do not have fines but wish to donate food items.
Using other food donation points throughout the county, the monthlong food drive last year brought in a total of more than 11 tons of food, which supported more than 200 charities that the FoodBank serves. Monmouth County officials noted that last year the library forgave more than $20,000 in fines during the food drive.
Also marking NCGM, the Kitsap County (Wash.) Board of Commissioners and the Curry County (N.M.) Board of Commissioners adopted NCGM proclamations.
A special feature of NCGM is the National County Government Month Award. The purpose of the award program is to encourage counties to participate in NCGM and recognize nationally counties that sponsor outstanding programs during the month of April. The National Association of County Information Officers (NACIO) — a NACo affiliate — will again judge the entries. Three counties will receive the top award in rural, suburban and metropolitan counties, and second place awards will be presented.
All entries will be posted online to serve as a database of ideas for other counties to use. There is no cost to apply. Applications must be received by Friday, May 24 to be eligible.
Whether or not your county applies for an award, NACo wants to know about the NCGM activities and programs you have planned. A special online form is available on the NCGM page of the NACo website so you can inform NACo about your county’s NCGM plans. There you will be able to upload your photos, flyers, calendars, proclamations and other county government month materials so NACo can share this information with other counties to help them have a successful celebration. You may also send your activities and materials directly to Jim Philipps, NACo media relations manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 1991, NACo has encouraged counties to actively promote county government services and programs. It is not too late to participate in NCGM. A booklet full of ideas to celebrate NCGM is available on the NCGM page in the Solutions Center under the “Tell the Public What Counties Do” section of the NACo website. The booklet contains suggested community activities, a draft proclamation, a sample news release, media outreach strategies and more.
Also on the NCGM Web page, you will find free downloads for logos, banners and posters with the 2013 Smart Justice theme and blank space for your county to localize and “make it your own.”