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2019 Achievement Award Winners

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The National Association of Counties (NACo) is pleased to announce the winners for the 2019 Achievement Awards. NACo recognized 616 entries from counties and state associations in 32 states. All winners are available in our searchable awards database, where winning programs are searchable by year, category and state dating back to 2007.

Awards Database

NACo would like to recognize the following 2019 Achievement Award Best in Category winners:

Category Title County State
Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation

African Americans of Boone County Initiative

Boone County

Ky.

Children and Youth

GetSet Early Childhood Collective

Transylvania County

N.C.

Civic Education and Public Information

Commissioners' Mentoring Program

Vermillion County

Ind.

Community and Economic Development

DuPage County Shared Services Program

DuPage County

Ill.

County Administration and Management

Child Abuse Reporting Electronic System (CARES)

Los Angeles County

Calif.

County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy and Sustainability

Play Conservation Pays and Win!

Broward County

Fla.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Helping HANDS (HANDS- Healthcare: Access, Navigation, Delivery and Support), a Thomas McMicken legacy program for jail transition

Polk County

Fla.

Financial Management

Fleet Gain Sharing Program

Baltimore City 

Md.

Health

Senior Loneliness Line

Clackamas County

Ore.

Human Services

Latino Health Initiative Family Reunification Program

Montgomery County

Md.

Information Technology

Monitoring and Response Tools for Post-Wildfire Debris Flow Management

Riverside County

Calif.

Libraries

STEM storytimes

Carver County

Minn.

Parks and Recreation

Harford County Sensory Trail

Harford County

Md.

Personnel Management, Employment and Training

Oakland County Manufacturing Day

Oakland County

Mich.

Planning

Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan

Los Angeles County

Calif.

Risk and Emergency Management

Recovery and Resiliency Framework

Sonoma County

Calif.

Transportation

Road Recycling and Improvement Program - Jackson County, Michigan

Jackson County

Mich.

Volunteers

Erie County, Pennsylvania Veterans' Initiatives

Erie County

Pa.

Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation

African Americans of Boone County Initiative

Boone County, Ky.

For the past decade, Boone County, Kentucky has been moving towards a greater awareness of enslavement and the struggle for freedom within its history. Although as a slave-holding county in a border state and Boone County’s records are replete with information regarding enslavement, the information was not acknowledged. Through the African Americans of Boone County Initiative, launched in 2014, several projects have been developed to connect the community to Boone County’s African American History.

The Underground Railroad in Boone County project has produced several interpretive materials and the African Americans of Boone County Resource Collection has advanced initiatives including: the Pvt. Daniel Goff Revolutionary War Memorial project; Out of Kentucky: African American Migration project; and the Barkshire Family of Rising Sun Indiana Roadside Marker project.

In 2017 BCPL was recognized as an NPS Network to Freedom affiliated member, both as a research facility and as a program (UGRR tour). BCPL has received two NTF-funded grants: The Underground Railroad: Boone County and the Flight to Freedom Teacher Workshop Curriculum Project (2018); and The Boone County African American Resource Survey Project (2019). In 2018, BCPL was recognized by the NAACP Northern Kentucky Chapter for outstanding community service with a Community Empowerment Award.

Contact: Carrie Boone Herman cherrman@bcpl.org

Children and Youth

GetSet Early Childhood Collective

Transylvania County N.C.

Transylvania County utilized the collective impact model process to pull together more than 22 entities including government agencies, nonprofits and local businesses to form GetSet Transylvania- an initiative focused on improving early childhood.

GetSet began with facilitated meetings in May 2015 after being inspired to address community concerns around a high rate of children not testing as ready for kindergarten and concerns from families about affordable, quality child care. In December 2015, Get Set produced the State of the Young Child Report using a data informed approach to identify issues for early education, health/mental health, recreation and family resources. The group utilizes subcommittee structure to focus coordination and collaboration on improving measurable outcomes and meets as a whole monthly to provide accountability, encouragement and an opportunity to keep the collective relationships strong netting in a reduction in the % of children not ready for kindergarten, an increase in available pre-kindergarten options and a reduction in babies born addicted to substances.

Get Set’s work and additional focus on advocacy outside of the county resulted in being selected as a partner community for Sesame Street in Communities launching in 2018 at Halloweenfest in Brevard in 2018 bringing the Count “home to Transylvania.”

Contact: Jaime Laughter jaime.laughter@transylvaniacounty.org

Civic Education and Public Information

Commissioners' Mentoring Program

Vermillion County, Ind.

The Vermillion County Indiana Commissioners' Mentoring Program was introduced three years ago with goals of helping to educate high school students about local government and the duties of elected officials, as well as to promote civic engagement throughout the student body.

Each month a senior student is selected by local high school principals to participate. Transportation to and from the County Courthouse is provided by the Vermillion County Sheriff. Students are brought from their high school to the courthouse where they are assigned honorary duties in a commissioners’ meeting. They gavel the meeting to order, lead the Pledge of Allegiance, take roll call, and at the end of the meeting, they gavel the official adjournment. After the commissioner’s meeting adjournment, the student is taken on a tour of the courthouse to visit with each elected office holder and to receive an explanation of the job and duties in each office. Students are encouraged to register to vote, which many of the students do while visiting the clerk's office. Students sit in on a court hearing and visit with the judge prior to returning to their school at the end of the visit.

Contact: Hon. Tim R. Yocum, Sr. timyocum2@gmail.com

Community and Economic Development

DuPage County Shared Services Program

DuPage County, Ill.

In an effort to reduce government redundancies, DuPage County’s Stormwater Management Department developed a shared services program to assist municipalities and townships with meeting water quality and stormwater management goals and initiatives. To do so, DuPage entered into intergovernmental agreements (IGA) with 41 municipalities and townships to form a countywide water quality program. In addition to aligning water quality goals countywide, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes this program – the first of a kind in Illinois – as a single permit holder under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Prior to entering into these IGAs, DuPage County conducted water quality services for NPDES compliance on behalf of local communities that saved taxpayers countywide an estimated $4.44 million annually. By further reducing regulatory redundancies and assisting in local projects, the countywide water quality program is saving local communities an estimated additional $1.56 million annually, as well as a one-time cost of $337,881 for illicit discharge monitoring equipment. In conjunction with the countywide water quality program, DuPage County Stormwater Management is also assisting local communities in initiatives ranging from spill cleanup to storm sewer televising to catch basin and storm sewer cleaning. When needed, communities are utilizing the County’s crew and equipment for both scheduled and emergency maintenance.

These shared services are generating an estimated more than $300,000 in annual revenue for the department, while reducing the communities’ need for heavy equipment and full-time staff. DuPage County Stormwater Management’s shared services program is economically viable, replicable and proven for use in other counties.

Contact: Mary Mitros mary.mitros@dupageco.org

County Administration and Management

Child Abuse Reporting Electronic System (CARES)

Los Angeles County, Calif.

In October 2015, Senate Bill (SB) 478 was signed into law by the governor of California. This Bill allows participating counties to test the concept of an online reporting system with a group of mandated reporters (law enforcement agencies, schools, medical professionals, mental health clinicians, Probation, Coroner and DCFS employees) in non-urgent situations, with the hope of creating a more efficient reporting process. In an effort to improve its operations, Los Angeles County is the only County within the State of California, which opted to develop an online pilot.

In an effort to meet the increasing number of calls being reported to the Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Child Protection Hotline (CPH), CPH in conjunction with DCFS’ Business Information Systems (BIS) Division developed and designed the Child Abuse Reporting Electronic System (CARES), which is an on-line reporting system for use by mandated reporters. These selected mandated reporters may use the internet-based reporting system in Iieu of the initial telephone report and will not need to submit the required written follow-up report (Suspected Child Abuse Report Form SS8572).

CARES, which was implemented on November 15, 2017, enhances options for a select group of mandated reporters to report suspected child abuse and neglect per the mandated reporters law. This system, which is only for non-urgent reports, includes a standardized safety assessment of qualifying questions and excludes the submission of reports where the child is subject to immediate risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation or is in imminent danger of severe harm or death. The qualifying questions redirect the reporter to file their report by telephone when the situation is emergent. DCFS is pleased to share that, through implementation of the automated CARES, non-urgent child abuse reports are more expeditiously and appropriately addressed.

Contact: Arman Depanian depana@dcfs.lacounty.gov

County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy and Sustainability

Play Conservation Pays and Win!

Broward County, Fla.

The Play Conservation Pays and Win! game is a targeted campaign designed to engage the public in water conservation, while simultaneously advancing sustainability goals. The online game asks people to answer questions and quizzes to earn water drops and points, while randomly rewarding them with instant win prizes and six grand cash prizes of up to $5,000. The game was designed as an innovative strategy to boost Broward County’s regional Conservation Pays program goals and expand the educational messaging across areas of water conservation, sustainability and climate change. While the availability of toilet rebates and the distribution of water-efficient devices are well-recognized as ways to realize water savings, the game focuses on maximizing engagement of County residents through quests, quizzes and videos.

Additionally, creative social campaigns and the distribution of prizes strengthened participation. Broward Water Partnership reached out to residents and they responded with great enthusiasm and results, having 2,000 pre-registered players and over 1,900 active players. The game has also achieved substantial social media activity from the public and program partners, and furthered participation in Broward County’s broader water conservation programs. The platform is now available for continued yearly campaigns geared towards other environmental programs within Broward County.

Contact: Stephanie Chicko schicko@broward.org

Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Helping HANDS (HANDS- Healthcare: Access, Navigation, Delivery and Support), a Thomas McMicken legacy program for jail transition

Polk County, Fla.

Challenged with mentally ill inmates cycling through jail, Polk County Florida developed Helping HANDS, a pilot program for jail transition that aligns with NACo’s Stepping Up initiative. The program uses the APIC jail transition model unconventionally, staffing Community Paramedics alongside Recovery Peer Specialists to engage inmates and assist them with community reentry. The program ensures participants engage in treatment, receive medications and connect with social services resulting in reduced arrests, behavioral health crisis admissions, and inappropriate use of Emergency Medical Services.

Breaking down barriers between agencies, partnerships include Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Fire Rescue, Polk County Health and Human Services, jail healthcare provider and behavioral health providers who share information and data. Early results show improvements in fewer arrests, EMS calls and emergency room visits.

Contact: Charles A, Estridge, II CharlesEstridge@polk-county.net

Financial Management and Services

Fleet Gain Sharing Program

Baltimore City, Md.

In FY18, the Baltimore City Department of General Services (DGS) implemented the City’s first gain sharing program. Known as the Fleet Gain Sharing Program, the initiative is a collaboration between DGS and the labor organizations representing fleet employees. Under the program, all fleet employees are encouraged and empowered to identify and implement operational changes that improve service and reduce costs.

The program, which was developed and implemented in January 2018, concluded its first formal phase on December 31, 2018. The main purpose of gain sharing is to incentivize higher performance through structured involvement and employee participation. Costs are tracked, and a portion of avoided expenses are returned to employees as additional income.

Through several initiatives within the gain sharing program, Fleet Management has been able to avoid $1.15 million in costs during the 6-month pilot and first full phase. More importantly, while avoiding these costs in the present, systems and structures are in place for continued savings. This program not only saves money for the government and makes money for its employees, but the allowance for more employee input improved work efficiency, morale and innovation.

Contact: Melanie Shimano melanie.shimano@baltimorecity.gov

Health

Senior Loneliness Line

Clackamas County, Ore.

Clackamas County’s Senior Loneliness Line provides a personal connection to help support our vulnerable aging population from experiencing loneliness and isolation. Loneliness in seniors can be twice as dangerous as obesity and as damaging as smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes per day. It can also contribute to a decline in brain function and progression of Alzheimer’s disease induced dementia.

The Senior Loneliness Line accomplishes the following to improve the health of our seniors:

  • A friendly person to talk to when needed
  • Someone to listen
  • Emotional support and understanding
  • Resources and referrals
  • Grief support
  • Elder abuse prevention and counseling
  • Suicide intervention

Clackamas County is proud of its collaboration with local and national partners in the development of the Senior Loneliness Line program—an investment in our seniors’ health to ensure that our communities thrive.

Contact: Ed Nieto enieto@clackamas.us

Human Services

Latino Health Initiative Family Reunification Program

Montgomery County, Md.

In response to the unique challenges facing Latino families in Montgomery County who are reuniting after a prolonged period of separation, the Latino Health Initiative (LHI) of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has developed and delivered the Family Reunification Program. The program delivers culturally, and linguistically competent workshops tailored for parents/caregivers and adolescent children that focus on the development of skills to rebuild family relationships, enhancing communication and starting a process of emotional healing to effectively overcome the challenges faced in the process of reunification.

LHI’s Family Reunification Program was launched in 2015 and has since served 284 parents/caregivers and 308 adolescent children with reunification workshops delivered at 26 county public school sites, four DHHS facilities, two public libraries, two non-profit organization sites, and one faith-based organization.

Contact: Lisa Austin lisa.austin@montgomerycountymd.gov

Information Technology

Monitoring and Response Tools for Post-Wildfire Debris Flow Management

Riverside County, Calif.

Riverside County, California experienced widespread wildfires in 2018 which left more than 36,000 acres burned. Burn areas have high potential for mud and/or debris flows caused by unstable slopes which can be triggered by short duration high intensity storms. Spurred by the risks associated with post-wildfire storms, the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (District) has been using the newest technology to improve response to life-threatening flows.

The District’s surveyors use direct georeferencing drone technology which can map otherwise unreachable areas. Drone mapping and custom LiDAR was used to develop debris flow risk areas, prepare evacuation maps, and help develop the Watershed Emergency Response Team report for communities downstream of the fire. Rainfall and depth monitoring gauges and cameras were installed in high risk areas to give emergency managers real-time situational awareness. This data is presented in a web-based dashboard for emergency response personnel that displays real-time rainfall data across the burn scar and notifies the user when rainfall intensities exceed the predicted debris-producing thresholds. It also provides live webcam feeds and time lapse images of high-risk areas. The District leveraged existing field communication tools and implemented data collection technologies for vital real-time updates from District staff in the field during storm events. This information helps our operations and maintenance personnel prioritize facilities that need attention. Within hours after storms, the District’s drone can map areas where debris and mud flows have occurred.

California Geological Survey is using this data to advance the science of post-wildfire response with respect to debris flows by comparing the information the District gathered on pre- and post-wildfire conditions to use in the future throughout the state. Data gathered by the District has also been shared with other public agencies, including the county, state, and cities, to aid in emergency response.

Contact: Ava Moussavi amoussav@rivco.org

Libraries

STEM Storytimes

Carver County, Minn.

The Carver County Library Youth Services Team developed curriculum to offer “Preschool STEM Storytimes” targeting children ages 0-5 and their caregivers at each of our six library branches. The curriculums developed included four different rotating kits, one for each of the STEM themes. The storytimes launched during the 2018 Summer Reading Program and gave children and caregivers the opportunity to experience literature pertaining to STEM, as well as corresponding playful and engaging early STEM activities and experiences.

A storytime with STEM-related books was shared, accompanied by 3-5 activity stations featuring age and theme appropriate manipulatives for discovery, exploration, and experimentation. Storytime curriculum sheets were developed and available for further take-home ideas. The storytime and activities demonstrated a strong connection between STEM and literacy regarding early childhood development and Every Child Ready to Read literacy practices that are supported by and promoted in the library. We correlated the curriculums to also coincide with the Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators of Progress domains, which included the following: physical and movement development; language, literacy and communications; cognitive; mathematics; scientific thinking; social systems; approaches to learning; the arts; and social and emotional development.

Offering this program in all of our branches gave us the opportunity to reach a broader audience, giving an opportunity to families living in lower income areas and more technology-challenged access areas in the rural sectors of our county. Offering these storytimes during the 2018 Summer Reading Program, also allowed us to maximize attendance potential and exposure to families.

Contact: Patrick Jones pjones@co.carver.mn.us

Parks and Recreation

Harford County Sensory Trail

Harford County, Md.

Harford County Government opened the Schucks Road Sensory Trail, the first of its kind in the region in April 2018. This unique trail is accessible to all and allows citizens with differing abilities to experience sensory stations in the beautiful outdoors.

Traditional playgrounds are often over-stimulating for individuals with sensory sensitivity. The Schucks Road Park Sensory Trail in Bel Air, MD features 10 interactive stations that stretch along a tranquil paved path so individuals can experience each station at their own pace. It was designed to provide youth and adults of all ages and abilities with an environmental sensory experience while offering them a chance to play, exercise and to enjoy nature.

The Sensory Trail, is an outstanding example of a public-private partnership with local businesses and community organizations sponsoring 9 of the interactive stations.

Contact: Amber Shrodes ashrodes@harfordcountymd.gov

Personnel Management, Employment and Training

Oakland County Manufacturing Day

Oakland County, Mich.

In celebration of National Manufacturing Day, Oakland County Manufacturing Day takes place the first Friday of October each year. On October 5, 2018, over 1,000 high school students from seventeen Oakland County school districts and the four Oakland Schools Technical Centers visited 43 manufacturing companies across Oakland County.

Since its inception in 2015, Oakland County Manufacturing Day has tripled in size and impacted thousands of students, encouraging them to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing through hands-on, interactive, engaging tours at some of Oakland County’s premier advanced manufacturing companies. Large corporations, including General Motors and Magna International, join with small manufacturers like MPD Welding and Wenzel America, to open their doors and provide students, teachers, and counselors with an up-close tour of the technologies and careers in an advanced manufacturing business. The goal is to inspire our next generation of workers to explore careers in advanced manufacturing in Oakland County and encourage employers to increase their direct engagement with students to develop the next generation of talent.

This annual event is brought to life by a collaboration between Oakland County Michigan Works!/Oakland County Workforce Development, Oakland Community College, Oakland Schools Intermediate School District, and Oakland County Economic Development and Community Affairs.

Contact: Jennifer Llewellyn llewellynj@oakgov.com

Planning

Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan

Los Angeles County, Calif.

The Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan seeks to create a distinctive park experience on one of America’s largest former landfills. Located at the top western edge of the Puente Hills and set 1,000 feet above the San Gabriel Valley, the site offers stunning perspectives of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, Downtown Los Angeles, the San Gabriel River and outreaching communities. The highly industrial landscape will be re-imagined into Los Angeles County’s first new regional park in more than 30 years and will cater to one of the most populous regions in the nation.

The project embodies the idea that beauty and infrastructure can be harmonized to create deeply meaningful spaces and experiences. Embracing the tension between the scenic San Gabriel Valley and a 130-million-ton mountain of trash, the design transforms the site into a unique regional destination that celebrates its history, scale and topography. The plan also celebrates the diversity of the communities it will serve and aspires to create a “Park For All,” offering recreational experiences and programming for visitors of all ages, abilities, interests and backgrounds.

Contact: John Wicker jwicker@parks.lacounty.gov 

Risk and Emergency Management

Recovery and Resiliency Framework

Sonoma County, Calif.

In December 2017, the County Board of Supervisors established the Office of Recovery and Resiliency to work with County department heads to lead and coordinate recovery efforts following the Sonoma Complex Fires that destroyed over 100,000 acres, 5,300 homes, and took 24 lives. The Office was tasked with taking a long-term, strategic approach, and to develop an integrated framework for recovery that incorporates a long-term vision for a more resilient future.

From June 2018 through September 2018, the Office facilitated a robust community engagement process to receive input to guide the Recovery and Resiliency Framework. The Framework identifies goals, actions, timelines, leaders, and essential partnership to make progress towards five critical strategic areas – Community Preparedness and Infrastructure, Housing, Economy, Safety Net Services, and Natural Resources. It also incorporates post-fire response activities, challenges and opportunities, public input received, completed actions, and a community led vision for each strategy area.

Ultimately, the Framework, formally adopted by the Board of Supervisors in December, 2018, represents the County’s long-term vision towards a resilient future.

Contact: McCall Miller mccall.miller@sonoma-county.org

Transportation

Road Recycling and Improvement Program - Jackson County, Michigan

Jackson County, Mich.

The Jackson County Department of Transportation Road Recycling & Improvement Program is a comprehensive, large-scale approach to improve the condition and durability of the County’s 1,600-mile road system. As of 2018, approximately 41% of all county primary roads (220 miles) and 85% of county local roads (680 miles) were rated in poor condition and currently require reconstruction. Traditional construction methods cost approximately $250,000-$400,000+ per mile, requiring a $300-$400 million investment to fix all poor roads.

In early 2018, the County took a bold and innovative step forward in solving this ominous problem by investing $6 million to purchase an array of new cold-in-place recycling (CIR) equipment. CIR technology has been used and gradually improved over the last 3 decades: the process involves grinding up existing asphalt roads (5-8” of asphalt and aggregate base material), blending it with binding agents, and placing it back down as a new bound aggregate road base. The result is a road that is 30-40% stronger, and that costs approximately 30% less than traditional construction methods.

Jackson County is the nation’s – and possibly the world’s –first and only municipally owned and operated comprehensive road recycling program of this nature. Approximately 12 miles were completed in 2018, and over 50 miles are programmed for completion in 2019, with 50 to 80 miles planned each year thereafter depending on funding. The program will create a network of so-called “super roads” throughout the community by recycling existing road materials and creating new roads that are significantly stronger and more durable, and that will save taxpayers an estimated $125 million over the next 50+ years.

Contact: Sheenita Davis sdavis@co.jackson.mi.us

Volunteers

Erie County, Pennsylvania Veterans' Initiatives

Erie County, Pa.

Two years ago the manner in which Veterans and their families in Erie County, PA could access assistance changed. Beforehand, non-profit organizations and private citizens assisted needy Veterans and their families in a rather unorganized manner. Help came only when resources and Veterans were connected; largely by word of mouth. Only the local Erie VA Medical Center (VAMC) was connecting Veterans with available resources; mostly medical benefits at that time. Worth noting is that not every Veteran qualifies for VA provided services and benefits.

Erie County is home to a moderate population of Veterans in need of assistance who, according to Federal and State regulations do not all qualify.

Shortly after hiring Erie County’s Veteran’s Affairs Director he learned of a Veteran’s Support Initiative created by a very civic minded Veteran. This first Veteran’s Support Initiative paved the way for others which eventually created a powerful network that connects resources to those Veterans in need. Together, the three initiatives serve in different ways to support Veterans while not altering the manner in which existing Veteran centric organizations have done so for many years.

Contact: Thaddeus Plasczynski tplasczynski@eriecountypa.gov

 

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