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County Solutions and Innovation Blog​​
NACo Releases New Waste Energy Recovery Issue BriefNew

Written by Rob Pressly​, NACo Program Manager.​

NACo recently released a new issue brief, Waste Energy Recovery: Renewable Energy from County Landfills.  This new report serves as a guide for county leaders to better understand the process of recovering energy from waste, and provides resources to help counties develop and finance energy-from-waste projects.

Each year, Americans collectively generate about 251 million tons of waste.  Nearly half of this waste is recycled or composted, but that still leaves about 135 tons of waste that get sent to landfills in counties throughout the U.S.  This can pose a number of issues for counties, including:

  • Costs associated with creating new landfills;

  • Costs associated with transporting waste across county or state lines when local landfills retire; and

  • Decreased air quality from methane and carbon dioxide emissions at landfills.

To avoid these issues, counties across the country have turned to alternative methods of handling municipal solid waste.  Two such methods include landfill gas-to-energy (LFGTE) and waste-to-energy (WTE).  LFGTE and WTE projects can provide counties with a number of financial and environmental benefits. Some of them include:

  • Generating new revenue: Counties can sell electricity generated on-site to local utilities or sell compressed natural gas collected to users to generate reliable sources of revenue.

  • Creating new jobs: Construction and maintenance of WTE and LFGTE facilities provide opportunities for temporary and permanent jobs.  On average, a 1,500-tons per day WTE facility leads to 248 direct jobs and 52 indirect jobs during the construction phase.  Once in operation, an average of 59 new direct jobs is created to operate and maintain the facility.

  • Increasing recycling ra...

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8 hours ago | 0

Pipeline safety grant opportunity and new resources for counties

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.
ew Technical Assistance Grants (TAG) Opportunity!
The U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is now accepting applications for the 2015 Technical Assistance Grants (TAG) for communities or impacted stakeholders seeking engineering, or other scientific analysis of issues relating to pipeline infrastructure.  Governmental entities or non-profit groups may qualify for a grant of up to $100,000 per year.  Applicants must be local communities or groups of individuals relating to the safety of pipeline facilities in local communities.  ‘Communities’ are defined as cities, towns, villages, counties, parishes, townships, and similar governmental subdivisions or consortia of such subdivisions.  For-profit entities are not eligible. 

  • The announcement can be found by using the “SEARCH GRANTS” tab at

    • Search by Funding Opportunity Number DTPH5615SN0002

  • The closing date for applications is April 22, 2015. 

  • For more information, or to apply for a grant, please contact Karen Lynch at

Additional Pipeline Safety Resources
The Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA) initiative– made up of stakeholders from all levels of government and representatives of pipeline and building industries – focuses on issues related to the potential impact of land use, and development around transmission pipelines.   Since forming in 2008, PIPA representatives have worked to address the protection of pipelines when considering or planning for development near a pipeline right-of-way.  The result was recommended practices to safeguard com...

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7 days ago | 0

​Painting the Town: Arts Partnerships Lead to Economic Victories in Clayton County, Ga.

By Alix Kashdan​, Senior Intern, Community and Economic Development

NACo is dedicated to supporting county leaders seeking to develop and implement creative strategies that foster economic growth.  This is the first post in a two-part blog series highlighting successful arts-based economic development projects.

Arts Clayton Gallery. Source: Arts Clayton.

Clayton County, Ga. has a population of 264,220 and is located just south of Atlanta.  One of the county’s priorities is investing in the arts, which has proved to be a fruitful investment.  Some of the county’s recent successes, which integrate support for the arts with economic development goals, include a partnership for historic preservation and an innovative education and workforce training program.

Clayton County’s historic preservation work emerged from the marked population changes the region has seen in recent years: Since the early 2000s, the county has experienced population growth due to rapid outward expansion from Atlanta’s urban core.  The influx of residents, needing new places to live, began to threaten culturally important historic centers like the Jonesboro Historic District, found in the county seat of in Jonesboro and listed on the National Register of Historic Places (and known by many as the setting of Gone with the Wind).  The county’s historic centers are home to a number of important ...

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9 days ago | 0

(NACo Podcasts) Optimizing Health, Justice & Public Safety in Your County


This past January, NACo held a joint Healthy Counties Initiative and Justice and Public Safety forum in Charleston S.C. This video podcast takes a look at two of the issues discussed during the forum: addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, and the intersection of behavioral health and justice systems.

During the podcast, we hear from Commissioner Joan Garner and Commissioner Katie “Kay” Cashion, respective chairs of the NACo Healthy Counties Initiative Advisory Board and NACo Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee, as well as James Bell, founder and executive director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, and Judge Steve Leifman of the Miami-Dade County Court Criminal Division.

Subscribing to NACo Podcasts is simple.  If you are using an Apple device, while on your device, click the "Subscribe Via iTunes" button below.  Once subscribed, new episdoes will be automatically pushed to your device.  For other devices, subscribe via RSS, or download today's episode directly to your device.  Click here for a full listing of NACo Podcasts episodes.


This podcast features information and data presented at during the NACo Healthy Counties Initiative and Justice and Public Safety forum, including statistics presented by James Bell and Judge Leifman during their sessions. 

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3 weeks ago | 0

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Featured in January NACo Creating Healthy Counties Newsletter

Written by Andrew Whitacre, NACo Health Associate.
The January 2015 issue of the NACo Creating Health Counties Newsletter features a Q&A with U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center Executive Director Marc DeCourcey. The article focuses on the role of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and its local Chambers in community health improvement efforts, how county elected officials and county staff can engage the Chamber Foundation and their local Chambers of Commerce and the role the Chamber Foundation plays in the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program.

In this issue you can also read recaps of many of the 2015 NACo Health, Justice and Public Safety Forum workshops held in Charleston County, S.C. from January 21-23, listen to a NACo podcast on the six Community Dialogues to Improve County Health held in 2014 and read about work being done in counties across the country to improve the health of their communities.

Read the 2015 January issue of the NACo Creating Health Counties Newsletter here.

4 weeks ago | 0

Counties Find a "Roadmap" Useful When Working Across Jurisdictions

This post is part of a series of guest blog posts from the Center for Sharing Public Health Services.

In remote south-central Colorado, the San Luis Valley sits in the high desert, horseshoed by the San Juan Mountains to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east. The Rio Grande River connects the region to its New Mexico neighbor to the south.

The area is isolated — it is about a four-hour drive to Denver. It is also sparsely populated — the mountains, along with the state line, enclose about 8,000 square miles and 45,000 people. The largest town, Alamosa, has less than 9,000 residents.

At a mile and a half above sea level, temperatures become frigid during winter months. The geographic isolation and extreme weather make for rugged conditions but, as Saguache County Commissioner Linda Joseph put it, “That’s just the way we like it.”

The region contains six counties — Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache. Each has its own county commission. However, for decades they have also tackled issues together through the San Luis Valley County Commissioners Association. A second group, the San Luis Valley Council of Governments, brings together cities, counties and economic development groups in the region to work jointly. 

“We really didn’t realize how unique we were,” Commissioner Joseph said when asked ...

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4 weeks ago | 0

Forum Recap: Systems of Care in Juvenile Justice and Mental Health

(Left to right) Mary Jo Meyers, Deputy Director, Wraparound Milwaukee; Dr. Altha Stewart, Director, Just Care Family Network; and Denise Sulzbach, Director, Policy and Strategic Development, Institute for Innovation and Implementation, University of Maryland, School of Social Work.

This morning, NACo’s Forum on Optimizing Health, Justice and Public Safety opened with a session that focused on Systems of Care in Juvenile Justice and Mental Health.  The session was moderated by Ms. Denise Sulzbach who is the Director of Policy and Strategic Development at The Institute for Innovation and Implementation, University of Maryland School of Social Work. Mary Jo Meyers, Deputy Director of Wraparound Milwaukee, spoke about Wraparound Milwaukee in Milwaukee County, Wis. and Dr. Altha Stewart, Executive Director of Just Care Family Network spoke about the Just Care Family Network program in Shelby County, Tenn.

Systems of Care rely on research and science that are data driven to encompass cultural and linguistic competence, community based programs, youth-guided programs and family-driven programs.  Elements of the program include mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and caregivers.  Wraparound Milwaukee serves 1,100 families.  They partner with Medicaid, Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare, and Child Mental Health.  Just Care Family Network services children from ages 5-19 with emotional disturbances who are at risk of being taken out ...

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6 weeks ago | 0

Forum Recap: Taking Care of Our Own

(Left to right) Lynn Cripe, PhD, Director, Resilience Services, Konterra Group; Lt. Jeffrey Duckworth,  San Diego County Sheriff's Department; Ron Manderscheid, PhH, NACBHDD


County Leaders work to ensure the behavioral health needs of county employees and residents are met.  During the session, participants learned about the unique needs that face county employees that work in crisis moments and learned what they can do as an elected official or emergency manager to alleviate the mental and emotional burdens.  How law enforcement and health care providers engage those with mental illness and de-escalate situations.

Key points:

  • Taking care of your own before a crisis situation happens.  In San Diego, employees who may be privately dealing with problems such as substance abuse, loss of a friend or relative, domestic situations, or any other issue that may occur that causes stress;  the county offers confidential mental health and counseling services that they can go to at their own discretion free of cost.

  • Be certain to have a strong peer support system.  Have peers check in on each other in a crisis.

  • Be certain that your first responders and county officials have the proper outlet ...

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6 weeks ago | 0

​Forum Recap: Mobile Workshop—Charleston County Judicial Center

Carson Fox, Chief Operating Office / Chief Counsel, National Association of Drug Court Professionals addresses workshop participants.

NACo’s Forum on Optimizing Health, Justice and Public Safety included a mobile workshop where participants had the opportunity to visit the Charleston County Judicial Center.  At this workshop, participants learned about diversion programs that addressed unique needs of defendants in Charleston County.  Specifically, participants were educated on Mental Health Court, Juvenile Drug Court and Adult Drug Court.


There were two diversion programs that participants learned greatly about in today’s mobile workshop: Drug Court and Mental Health Court.  In 1989, a severe drug problem began that highly affected the judicial system.  Defendants were being processed and the judicial system became overwhelmed.  A Miami judge created a joint treatment and justice system where defendants were given intensive drug and mental health treatment as well as on- going judicial supervision.  Currently in Charleston, S.C. the Drug Court accepts high risk and high need cases where defendants are non –violent offenders who are addicted to drugs.  The Mental Health Initiative in Charleston, S.C. is unique because of its comprehensive and provider guided s...

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6 weeks ago | 0

Forum Recap: Health Coverage Enrollment for the County Jail Population

​Following a workshop on NACo’s Mental Illness and Jails Initiative with NACo Executive Director Matt Chase and former Director of Behavioral Health Services in Salt Lake County, Utah Pat Fleming, concurrent sessions were held, one of which was the “Health Coverage Enrollment for the County Jail Population.” The session was moderated by Hon. Jim McDonough, Commissioner, Ramsey County, Minn.; with Christian Heiss, Senior Program Officer with the Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc., providing a national overview of what opportunities are available to counties to enroll justice-involved individuals in health coverage; Commander Sheila Lorance from Marion County, Ore., speaking from a mid-size county perspective on their efforts to provide enrollment opportunities to individuals in their jail; and Marlena Jentz, Deputy Director of Programs with the Cook County, Ill. Sheriff’s Office, discussing what Cook County has done to partner across the county to engage the justice-involved in health coverage. 

Health care systems across the country, including those in county jails, are undergoing significant reform. As these reforms are implemented, county jails have an opportunity to enroll eligible detainees and inmates in health insuran...

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6 weeks ago | 0

Forum Recap: Emergency Management for Vulnerable Populations


Elected officials and emergency managers are responsible for the public safety of all residents in their jurisdictions.  However, there are distinct populations such as the elderly, disabled, non-English speakers and others that may be harder to reach prior to or during a disaster.  Learn about successful efforts in jurisdictions to incorporate these populations in an emergency plan so that everyone is protected.

Key Points from Presentation:

  • Planning is paramount:  Identify the needs of that community and what will they need in a disaster situation.  Where do those assets exist? (ex.  In Florida, there was a need for sign language interpreters, but the state didn't employ the amount that was necessary.  So they were able to reference their list of sign language interpreters to call when there’s a need.

  • Invest in an accessible hazard alert system (think about ones that may be used for those who cannot speak, hear, or are visually impaired)

  • Seminole County has a special needs registry where those who have disabilities can enroll so the county knows where they are, and how to get services to them in a crisis situation.

  • Identify your hazard vulnerabilities (hurricane...

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6 weeks ago | 0

Forum Recap: NACo’s Mental Illness and Jails Initiative


NACo and the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center are jointly embarking on an initiative to reduce the number of individuals with mental illnesses in jails.  Mental health and justice issues are critical issues in counties.  This session was an opportunity to learn more about the effort and share what is happening in participants’ counties and what type of information and assistance would be helpful to counties wishing to engage in an effort to reduce the number of individuals with mental illness in jails. Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson from Douglas County, Neb. introduced the session.  Mr. Matthew Chase, Executive Director of the National Association of Counties and Mr. Pat Fleming, retired Director of Behavioral Health Services in Salt Lake County, Utah presented at the session. 

Key Takeaways:

  • While there are numerous national, state and local organizations that have worked on the issue of mental illness and jails for decades, far fewer state and local elected officials have been engaged in these efforts.  This collaborative effort is an opportunity to create a safe environment for counties and states to work together to reduce the number of individuals with mental illness in jails.

  • The Stepping Up Initiative, a national initiative to reduce the number of individuals with mental illness in jails, will kick off with a Call to Actio...

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6 weeks ago | 0