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The National Association of Counties (NACo) is pleased to announce the winners for the 2018 Achievement Awards. NACo recognized 615 entries from 116 counties and state associations in 29 states. All winners are available in our searchable awards database, where winning programs are searchable by year, category and state dating back to 2007.

Winners of 2018 Achievement Awards are cordially invited to the NACo Achievement Awards Luncheon from noon to 2:00 p.m. on July 15, 2018, at NACo’s 2018 Annual Conference and Exposition in Nashville, Davidson County, Tenn. NACo will list each award winner in the lunch program booklet and honor the Best in Category winners on stage. To register for the Annual Conference, please click here.

NACo would like to recognize the following 2018 Achievement Award Best in Category winners (click on the category titles to view more information about each best in category winner):

Category Program Title County State
Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy uses the Arts to Raise Awareness About Addiction Harford County Md.
Children and Youth Early Intervention Autism Clinic Henrico County Va.
Civic Education and Public Information Community Immunity Honor Society- Improving Immunization Rates in Schools Alameda County Calif.
Community and Economic Development Growing Pontiac Oakland County Mich.
County Administration and Management Neighborhood Actions Teams Montgomery County Md.
County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy and Sustainability Environmental Stewardship Collaborative Summit County Utah
Criminal Justice and Public Safety Dakota County Community Corrections Whole Family Approach at the New Chance Day Treatment Program Dakota County Minn.
Financial Management and Services Financial Life Skills Training with Inmates St. Lucie County Fla.
Health Brenda's Casamia Restaurant and Catering Ventura County Calif.
Human Services Baby Steps Wilson County N.C.
Information Technology BIM360 Collaborative Hub Montgomery County Md.
Libraries Fresh Ideas for Growing Community Gwinnett County Ga.
Parks and Recreation Adaptive Crossfit and Yoga Mecklenburg County N.C.
Personnel Management, Employment and Training Person Centered Service Coaching San Diego County Calif.
Planning Regional Housing Strategy Boulder County Colo.
Risk and Emergency Management At-Risk Resident Weather Radio Distribution Project Henrico County Va.
Transportation Edgewater Drive Phase II Charlotte County Fla.
Volunteers Love Where You Live: Keep Mercer Clean Mercer County W.Va.

Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation

Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy Uses the Arts to Raise Awareness About Addiction

Harford County, Md.

Heroin and opiate drug use and overdose deaths have reached epidemic rates nationally and locally. As overdoses continue to climb, agencies and stakeholders are racing to develop new resources and prevention methods, reduce stigma and deepen understanding about addiction. In addition, communities are hoping to invite new ideas and new voices, particularly youth, to the conversation.

To further engage citizens the Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) and its partners added three cultural arts components to its prevention and treatment campaign: the play Addicted; an audio-visual public service announcement competition; and the HOPE Against Addiction Calendar and art competition. Together they have reached more than 170,000 citizens.

Employing the arts has been an effective way to engage youth in the community, and provides new opportunities to discuss addiction without judgement. Further art evokes emotional change, creativity and deeper insight regarding this devastating brain disease.  As a result of the initiative, Harford County citizens have a stronger understanding of addiction and its contributing factors and consequences, are more engaged, and have increased awareness of Harford County’s programs and resources. Further, the initiative has strengthened partnerships among local and state agencies. 

Contact: Amber Shrodes

Children and Youth

Early Intervention Autism Clinic

Henrico County, Va.

Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services’ Parent Infant Program (PIP), provides Early Intervention supports and services for babies with developmental delays. Early intervention providers are often the first professionals to identify concerns that indicate a need for an autism assessment. Regionally, wait times are 6 months or more, toddlers may age out of the service before a diagnostic assessment can be completed.

In 2016, PIP partnered with Dr. Donald Oswald from Commonwealth Autism to develop an autism assessment clinic. The clinic was developed to meet several needs. First, to provide diagnostic assessment services for children served by early intervention teams and who are at increased risk for a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. 100% of therapists were trained to administer the autism assessments. Secondly, to decrease the wait time for children to receive an early diagnosis. The wait time was reduced by 87%. Finally, to develop a transdisciplinary team process with best practices regarding diagnostic assessment for autism. Both parents/caregivers and therapists are part of the team. Once a child receives a diagnosis of autism, the early intervention team establishes supports and resources to enhance learning and development through everyday learning opportunities.

Contact: Victoria Davis

Civic Education and Public Information

Community Immunity Honor Society- Improving Immunization Rates in Schools

Alameda County, Calif.

Vaccines are one of the most notable public health achievements of the 20th century* To prevent the spread of communicable diseases in schools and to protect California students from disease, California has immunization laws that apply to all schools, public and private, saying which immunizations are required for entry into child care, kindergarten and 7th grade.  In late 2014, the Alameda County Public Health Department began a project to look into why, over the previous decade, the up-to-date kindergarten immunization rates in in the county were consistently lower than the California state average rates. 

Not only did we discover the largest contributing factors to our low immunization rates, we also determined multiple strategies to address them. One highlight was the creation of four different Community Immunity categories (including the Honor Society, Honorable Mention, the Hopefuls and the Non-Immune schools) into which schools were classified based on their immunization coverage rates. Groupings were publicly posted and shared with all school principals, so that schools could see how they compared to their peers. Within just one year, immunization rates improved over seven percentage points. Alameda County finally surpassed the state average and became one of the best immunized counties in California.

Contact: Myrna Lopez

Community and Economic Development

Growing Pontiac

Oakland County, Mich.

Established by the Oakland County (MI) Treasurer’s Office in 2015, Growing Pontiac is a program that utilizes vacant properties held by the county due to tax foreclosure to help strengthen the local food system in the City of Pontiac (the County Seat of Oakland County) and surrounding neighborhoods. Growing Pontiac produces educational and community events, bundles resources for citizens, promotes civic engagement, and helps support local and community gardens.

By supporting interest in community gardening and other creative uses for vacant lots, the program has helped create a market for typically undesirable county-held parcels and has significantly impacted the volume of sales of these properties, returning them to tax rolls and productive use.

Events produced by Growing Pontiac have focused on bringing together residents, businesses, non-profits, and governmental partners to explore subjects related to urban farming and community gardening in a fun and social environment. Presently, Growing Pontiac is offering a full schedule of low-cost classes available to the public throughout 2018.

In an age of increasingly tight public budgets, the public-private partnership of Growing Pontiac has increased sales of foreclosed properties, promoted associated local businesses, educated residents, and strengthened neighborhoods and the local food system.

Contact: Fred Miller

County Administration and Management

Neighborhood Action Teams

Montgomery County Md.

With the increasing complexity and interconnectedness of community issues, it is challenging for one agency to address all community concerns and even more so the root of problems communities face today.  Residents are frustrated when they must call different agencies that result in piecemeal responses.  The Neighborhood Action Team, led by Regional Service Area Directors, is a multi-agency, coordinated strategy to address complex community problems with deep systemic causes that require more time and thought from a variety of government professionals.  Government agencies share resources, information and solve problems together. They listen to residents for solutions, and work with community-based organizations who often know well the community and can sometimes do what government cannot.  With this approach, everyone not only shares the problems, we share the solutions.

While it was created to address communities most in need, Neighborhood Action Teams are being used to address many issues across our county.  There are two critical characteristics: The executive branch mandating government agencies to respond when the Neighborhood Action team is called into action.; more importantly, the RSC Director at the helm, identifying the need, calling the team into action, guiding the process, managing the team, reporting to the legislators and residents.

Contact: Lisa Austin

County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy and Sustainability

Environmental Stewardship Program

Summit County, Utah

Summit County Council adopted Resolution 2017-16 on October 4, 2017 that launched Summit County into the spotlight as the third county in the United States to establish a goal to transition to 100% renewable electrical energy by 2032.  The Resolution includes aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets:  80% below 2016 level by 2040 for county operations; and countywide emissions reduction of 80% below their 2016 level by 2050. 

Staff formed the Environmental Stewardship Collaborative program, an interdepartmental workgroup who developed a Strategic Implementation Plan to Advance Environmental Stewardship.  The program plan identifies specific objectives and metrics that are posted on the county’s internal website using easy-to-read charts and graphic illustrations. The Environmental Stewardship Collaborative program provides Council, residents and staff with knowledge of progress made toward maintaining the quality of life so important to the residents and businesses in Summit County, Utah.

Contact: Lisa Yoder

Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Dakota County Community Corrections Whole Family Approach at the New Chance Day Treatment Program

Dakota County, Minn.

There has been a great deal of research and energy surrounding the effectiveness of out of home placements for justice involved youth.  Placement in secure detention facilities often leads to increased recidivism.  Relying on incarceration as a means of supervising youth in the juvenile justice system does little to nothing to address the root causes of delinquency.  Dakota County Community Corrections designed the New Chance Day Treatment Program as an effective supervision strategy in an effort to prevent and keep youth designated as high risk from future delinquency in their homes and community rather than in out of home placements and secure facilities.  Unfortunately, the outcomes of youth participating in the New Chance Day Treatment Program have been mediocre and have not prevented out of home placement for Dakota County youth.  Instead, we discovered youth in the program were returning to court for technical violations and placed in secure settings at a higher rate than those supervised by a high risk probation officer in the community.

Traditional supervision approaches often create adversarial relationships between systems players, youth and their families, yet findings based on research suggest strategies that build relationships and work collaboratively with a client’s family result in reduced risk for future delinquency.  Prior to the implementation of a whole family approach, staff at New Chance Day Treatment typically communicated with parents on a monthly basis to educate and inform, rarely to collaborate.   A fresh new approach was needed to improve outcomes, reduce risk to reoffend, and prevent out of home placement for the youth placed on probation in Dakota County.

Contact: Debbie Formanack

Financial Management and Services

Financial Life Skills Training with Inmates

St. Lucie County, Fla.

“Your Game Plan for Building Wealth” is a Financial Life Skills  Extension program designed to raise awareness of the financial pitfalls inmates may face after their release from the St. Lucie County Jail, with a focus on proactive money management. Working with the St. Lucie County Jail’s Chaplain, the UF/IFAS Extension St Lucie County created this innovative program after learning from a Florida Department of Corrections study that recidivism rates are significantly lower for inmates who complete academic, vocational and substance abuse programs. Program objectives include improving inmate job readiness, entrepreneurship, budgeting, banking, saving, credit management, consumer awareness, communication skills and loss mitigation.  Special attention is paid to educate participants about the community resources available to them upon release.  Program partners include the jail, public defender’s office and the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie Community Resource Development (CRD) Agent serving as the program facilitator. Each objective supports an overall strategy for building wealth and assets which research indicates decreases recidivism.

Since its inception in July 2017, participating inmates consistently report increased knowledge of how to set specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time sensitive (SMART) goals (67%), how to improve a credit score (56%), dealing with debt collectors (71%), and reading a stock report (60%).

Contact: Carol Alberts


Brenda's Casamia Restaurant and Catering

Ventura County, Calif.

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging partnered with Brenda’s Casamia Restaurant and Catering to better identify and serve isolated seniors living in the rural, low-income community of Piru, California. The local Mexican restaurant offers strong community ties, culturally appropriate food options in a predominantly Hispanic community, and was willing  to provide vendor congregate and home-delivered meal services to eligible Senior Nutrition Program clients.

Perhaps most important is the positive, uplifting, and high-energy environment provided by the restaurant, adding camaraderie to the benefit of a nutritionally balanced meal that appeals to the population of Piru.

Contact: Jannette Jauregui

Human Services

Baby Steps

Wilson County N.C.

Supporting adolescent parents to get an education, acquire job skills, improve parenting abilities and prevent future pregnancies helps them become self-sufficient and better able to support themselves and their families. It also establishes a strong, stable foundation upon which the baby will be raised. By investing in teen parents today, the Baby Steps Program protects the future of two generations - the young parents themselves and their babies.  The goals of Baby Steps are as follows:

1. Increase the self-sufficiency outcomes for Baby Steps participants by:

  • Increasing the delay of a subsequent pregnancy;
  • Increasing graduation from high school with diploma or completion of GED;

2. Improve child welfare and school readiness outcomes for the children of Baby Steps participants by:

  • Increasing incidence of positive parenting among participants to support their child’s cognitive development and mental health;
  • Increasing incidence of child’s physical well-being by establishing the child’s medical home and creating a safe home environment.

The success of our Baby Steps Program depends not only on the commitment of our staff, but also on the support of the community and the cooperation of other agencies such as the health department, school system and many others.  We rely on a Community Advisory Council to shape our programming, make referrals and help us address systemic issues.  Our teen parents are graduating from high school and many are pursuing higher education.  

Contact: Candice Rountree

Information Technology

BIM360 Collaborative Hub

Montgomery County, Md.

Capital improvement and maintenance related to durability, serviceability and maintenance of 23 multi-level garage structures in 19 locations is the primary activity of the Engineering and Maintenance Section of the Division of Parking Management, MCDOT. The newer garages are below ground garages incorporated within mixed-use development complexes. The team’s challenge has been to evolve capital improvement projects development starting with existing as-built information and producing cost-effective repair designs and concluding with capturing new as-built information from completed construction and installation work.

To meet this challenge, the team established an online Building Information Modeling (BIM360) collaboration hub to hold MCDOT Garage Revit 3D models that continually capture all proposed designs, repairs, inspections data and as-builts for existing and new garages. This platform now enables capital projects managers (CPMs), maintenance team, consultants and contractors to collaborate using the same drawing sets and linked dataset for a garage. All garage drawings (Architectural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing (storm water, supply and sewage), and Life Safety are now produced from MCDOT 3D Garage Models. This allows for engineering activities and maintenance activities to be linked for strategic capital improvements.

Contact: Lisa Austin


Fresh Ideas for Growing Community

Gwinnett County Ga.

The Library received funding through the Institute for museum and Library Services to purchase Tower Gardens that were placed in each of 15 branches.  Growing fresh produce in each indoor garden served as a unique STEM learning opportunity for students across the county.  The Tower Gardens also allowed the Library to develop vital community partnerships in addressing food insecurity as multiple donations of fresh greens to local food pantries and senior lunch programs were made.  Programming around the gardens ranged from early literacy hands on activities to cultural culinary traditions of the county's diverse population.

Contact: Barbara Spruill

Parks and Recreation

Adaptive Crossfit and Yoga

Mecklenburg County, N.C.

The Adaptive CrossFit and Yoga program was created to give teens and young adults with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the fitness community with their peers while increasing their gross motor skills, balance, and social skills in a fun, functional environment! The program was developed in order to fill a gap in fitness programming for teens and young adults with special needs.

The program was marketed to teenagers and young adults, aged 13-35, with various disabilities, the majority of which have diagnoses of Autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy. By partnering with CrossFit Steele Creek (a national CrossFit affiliate), the participants are able to increase their fitness in a meaningful, measurable way through gymnastics, weightlifting, running, yoga and rowing.

Contact: Stacey Thomas

Personnel Management, Employment and Training

Person Centered Service Coaching

San Diego County, Calif.

The Person-Centered Service (PCS) Coaching program is helping the County of San Diego improve the quality and efficiency of delivering more comprehensive services, so that customers have better outcomes. The program accomplishes this by training employees about person-centered principles and how to coach other staff to more effectively implement PCS. PCS is an approach to service that places each customer at the center of their own personal development by considering all of their needs, and when those needs are beyond the scope of one department, it promotes collaborating to ensure customers are linked with appropriate resources.

To date, 84 employees participated and were taught through presentation, discussion, hands-on workshops, scenarios, and roleplay, with emphasis on effective communication principles and coaching techniques. Participants mapped a business process in their unit, analyzed for gaps in PCS, and created a plan to address the gaps. Many of these plans have been implemented in County departments to improve PCS. A significant portion of the program was also devoted to learning about available county and community services for better intergovernmental and community collaboration. An ongoing Community of Practice group gives continued support to program graduates.

Contact: Sharon Hughes


Regional Housing Strategy

Boulder County, Colo.

Recognizing the urgent need to act quickly to address a deepening affordable housing crisis, the Boulder County Regional Housing Partnership came together in 2016 to create a plan and set an ambitious goal for addressing affordable housing: by 2035, 12% of all housing inventory in Boulder County will be permanently affordable to low- and middle-income earners (the current affordable housing stock is around 5%). To reach the goal the plan calls for 12,000 additional affordable homes to be built or preserved within the next 17 years, and lays out a set of strong strategies for communities to use to get there.

To build the foundation for success in this effort, the partnership - led by a coalition including Boulder County and the cities of Longmont and Boulder - spent the past year and a half engaging the full community, working with planners, elected officials, community organizations, and members of the public from jurisdictions all over Boulder County. More than 40 presentations were given at different events, and feedback was collected during each presentation. The partnership also held a Housing Summit in September 2017 that brought together more than 80 elected officials, planners, and community members to discuss the plan and help move forward.

All jurisdictions (with the exception of one) across Boulder County have now voted to support the plan and the 12% goal, and momentum for this effort is tremendous and growing. This regional collaboration can serve as a model for other communities seeking cross-jurisdictional collaboration toward pursuing a critical common goal, particularly around housing affordability.

Contact: Gabrielle Boerkircher

Risk and Emergency Management

At-Risk Resident Weather Radio Distribution Project

Henrico County Va.

The At-Risk Resident Weather Radio Distribution Project is designed to get NOAA weather radios and other emergency planning resources into the hands of low-income families in Henrico County. This population tends to be the most impacted when a weather emergency occurs, particularly when it comes to recovery efforts. This program strives to enhance information sharing to provide simple knowledge about weather emergencies, so citizens can take control of their own preparedness efforts and have increased awareness about impending weather emergencies.

Contact: Victoria Davis


Edgewater Drive Phase II

Charlotte County Fla.

The Edgewater Drive Phase 2 project is located between U.S. 41 and Charlotte Harbor and provides a convenient alternative route to the U.S. 41 corridor. The improvements expanded two miles of Edgewater Drive from two lanes to a divided four-lane residential boulevard, replaced a traffic signal and three bridges and constructed four roundabouts to improve traffic flow on a critical corridor that provides a hurricane evacuation route. The project included neighborhood enhancements, including multi-use pathways, decorative barrier walls, ponds, roadway lighting, landscaping and irrigation. The project included new potable water and sewer pipes, along with a reclaimed water main for irrigation.

Edgewater Drive Phase 2 was funded by a voter-approved 1-percent local sales tax referendum ($20 million), transportation impact fees ($6.9 million) and gas taxes ($2.9 million). The total project cost was $29.8 million. Construction began in January 2015 and was completed in October 2017.

A county-hired public relations firm kept stakeholders informed throughout the project via a website called and social media portals and established resident email distribution lists.

Contact: Kelly Shoemaker


Love Where You Live: Keep Mercer Clean

Mercer County, W.Va.

The "Love Where You Live: Keep Mercer Clean" campaign 40-day cleanup initiative is more than a litter campaign. It's a state of mind, a change of heart! For too long, Mercer County has been a dumping ground on its roadways and streams. Our homes and communities have been neglected, and our Mountaineer Pride has been questioned. To restore our natural beauty and strengthen our communities, we must work together, hand in hand, arm in arm, to change the way we think and live.  

For the past four years, March 20 - April 30, Mercer County utilizes the power of over 1000 volunteers and tidy up homes, clean up property, and properly dispose of unwanted trash. We organize over a dozen cleanup programs and the county pays over $5000 annually on bags, grabbers, vests and more to showcase a spring cleanup to the likes that it has never seen.  We regularly collect over 200 tons of trash in that 40 day timeline and it has been a significant milestone event to reach our youth, their families, and our communities, with a message of solidarity and impact against the problems associated with litter.

We Love Where We Live, and we vow to Keep Mercer Clean!

Contact: Commissioner Greg Puckett


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