Henrico County has received 17 Achievement awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo), more than any other Virginia locality this year. The awards were presented at the 2013 NACo annual conference on July, 21 in Tarrant County, Texas.
2013 Award Winners
iRae – Internet Real estate Assessment Express
The Real Estate Assessment Division of the Henrico Finance Department is responsible for the annual reassessment of all real estate parcels in the County. As of January 1, 2013, the County contains over 111,000 taxable parcels valued at approximately $30.8 billion. The office receives hundreds of requests daily, both by phone and in person, for information. In 2000 the office installed an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to help respond to the volume of requests. This improved response but was somewhat difficult and time consuming for users to request specific parcel information using a touch telephone. In early 2011 the County implemented a new Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal system by Vision Government Solutions based on an Oracle platform. Along with this release, the County developed an integrated Internet information application to display assessment data, photos of the parcel and GIS mapping information.
The Real Estate Assessment Division and Information Technology Department partnered in developing an in-house Internet application providing easy access to public data. All development, programming and training was performed in-house with no additional costs to the County. This application has been named iRae which stands for Internet Real Estate Assessment Express.
Permanent Dog Tag and Multiyear License
The Virginia General Assembly enacted a code change to §3.1796.87:1 of the Code of Virginia in 2007 that mandated veterinarians report rabies vaccines to local jurisdictions. This change inundated Treasury staff charged with entering the rabies data generated by veterinary clinics vaccinating and licensing dogs.
The outdated license and renewal process became even more cumbersome when workloads increased and interfered with semiannual personal property and real estate tax collection deadlines. Due to the increase in annual renewals and volume of dogs having to be licensed, hiring additional staff became a necessity to ensure dog licenses were processed in a timely manner.
Working with the County Attorney’s Office, Information Technology (IT) and Animal Control, code changes were established in support of a permanent tag and multiyear license. Tags are now valid for the life of the dog and the multiyear license runs concurrent with the rabies expiration date. Mailing renewals throughout the year balances the internal workload and saves the County personnel costs. Additional savings are reflected in postage, paper, envelopes and the elimination of wastage of unused dated dog tags. Citizens’ benefit by only needing to remember one date for both license and rabies vaccinations, saving time and money, and without the necessity of purchasing a new tag annually.
Hose and Nozzle Shop – Sale of Recyclable Metal
Each fire engine in the Division of Fire carries approximately 2000 feet of various sizes of fire hose, numerous nozzles and appliances for the distribution and application of water to extinguish fires. These items, like most tools that are used by the fire service, are required to be used in very demanding conditions and must be ready for service at all times. The Division of Fire’s in-house Hose and Nozzle Shop is responsible for maintaining, servicing, and repairing all fire hose, nozzles, and related water appliances for all of the Division’s companies. In total, the Hose and Nozzle Shop is responsible for keeping more than 20 miles of hose and nearly 250 nozzles and related water appliances in operating condition.
Executive Development for Middle Managers: Preparing Tomorrow’s Top Leaders
An examination of Henrico County’s workforce in 2011 revealed an astonishing number of top leaders planning to retire in the coming year or two. Preparing middle managers to take over higher levels of responsibility was clearly a critical need for our organization – and we needed to meet this need quickly! We responded with a creative initiative focused on the developmental needs of an important, yet often overlooked, group of employees – those middle managers aspiring to move into an executive role.
Using a blend of traditional classroom techniques, facilitated dialog, group projects, and informal learning through conversations, we created a targeted initiative aimed at providing learning opportunities for middle managers and also at engaging upper and middle managers in several knowledge-sharing experiences. This innovative approach resulted in an astonishing 35% of participants experiencing promotions or being assigned increased levels of responsibility since the inception of this initiative. Over 300 middle managers participated, and surveys revealed that 88% improved their leadership abilities as a result of their involvement. Most importantly, these initiatives have ensured smooth transitions at our highest leadership levels so that our new leaders can continue Henrico County’s record of past successes while effectively steering the county into the future.
Agency: Human Resources
eBook Classes at Senior Centers
Henrico County Public Library has maintained continuous community outreach, especially through our Bookmobile, now known as Mobile Library Service. In their regular visits Bookmobile staff saw an increasing demand to support its senior patrons’ need for eBooks from the libraries. In response, Bookmobile staff partnered with our Emerging Technologies Librarian, Matt Phillips, to provide classes and one-on-one help with library eBooks. Beginning in January of 2012 Matt and Bookmobile staff made special visits to senior centers in the county who were most interested in learning about library eBooks and how to check them out on their devices.
Agency: Public Library
Electronics Recycling at Twin Hickory Area Library
In October of 2011, Henrico County Public Library staff at the Twin Hickory location began collaborating with Henrico Public Utilities to offer an electronics recycling event for area residents. Instead of disposing of old, outdated electronics at the county landfill, residents can drop off items at the library for recycling. The Twin Hickory Library is located in a highly populated residential area and has proven to be an ideal location for this service. Accomplished by a successful partnership between the library and Public Utilities, this one time program has grown into a regular service offered in October and April.
Agency: Public Library
Time Travel Programs
Two librarians helped commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Henrico County by creating a series of entertaining and educational family programs that explored the history of Henrico County. Using a spray-painted refrigerator box as a “time machine,” the librarians traveled back through time and kidnapped two historical figures from Virginia’s past: patriot Patrick Henry and aviator Richard Byrd. The historical figures were brought back to the present day where audiences asked them questions about their lives and times before they were returned to their respective historical periods.
The purpose of these Henrico History Time Travel Programs was to offer interactive family programs at Henrico County Recreation and Parks events intended to commemorate the quadricentennial of the County. Librarians Chris Holliman and Peter Belton performed the Time Travel Programs three times throughout 2011. At each one, costumed actors portrayed the historical figures and videos projected on a large screen gave the audience the idea that they were actually traveling back through time. Due to their success the time travel programs have become an annual event at the Twin Hickory branch of the Henrico Public Library.
Agency: Public Library
Crisis Intervention Team – Mobile Response Team (CIT MRT)
Henrico County’s Mobile Response Team (MRT) is a component of Henrico County’s award-winning Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). Henrico’s CIT program is a unique partnership comprised of first responders from the Henrico County Police Division, Division of Fire, Sheriff’s Office, and Mental Health and Developmental Services. In 2008, after two years of planning, these organizations formed the CIT program as a targeted approach to effectively assist citizens in crisis. They were supported by area hospitals, consumer advocacy and support groups such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Virginia Organization of Consumers Advocating Leadership (VOCAL), the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), and other community stakeholders.
The MRT was developed in 2010 with the goal to fill a significant gap in the availability of existing services for those in crisis. The MRT focuses on those who are not able to access services through traditional means. The project involves CIT first responders from police and mental health who meet citizens in crisis in the community to assess for needs and ensure linkage with community resources. The team has invested over 1,740 hours to assist over 440 citizens identified as needing non-traditional outreach to ensure they are able to successfully access services and thus work toward Mental Health Recovery.
Voices of Recovery
Voices of Recovery is a joint project between Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services (HAMHDS), a Community Services Board, and WRIR—LP, a local non-profit radio station. The project began in 2011 with the goal of providing education and public information about mental illness.
Voices of Recovery is a radio show documenting the struggles and triumphs of individuals with mental illness. Each one-minute episode highlights a notable individual who has experienced mental illness and found a path to recovery. Recovery from mental illness is the process of moving beyond the limitations the illness may cause, and finding renewed purpose, meaning and satisfaction in life. There remains considerable stigma associated with having a mental illness. This show challenges those stigmas and celebrates individual triumph.
Operation Innkeeper *(Best in Category)*
Operation Innkeeper is a cooperative investigative, enforcement, and community policing effort led by the Henrico County Police Division, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Department of Homeland Security (HSI), other area law enforcement agencies, and the Richmond Retail Merchants Association (RMA). The objective of this operation is to identify persons and organizations actively engaged in criminal activity that negatively impact area hotels. The law enforcement community has long recognized that hotels, motels, and other similar locations of transient lodging are locations uniquely affected by criminal activity. Persons whom reside in transient lodging are easily victimized and are therefore inviting targets for criminals. Transient lodging locations can also be used by criminals as a refuge from law enforcement and as locations from which criminal activity can be conducted. Operation Innkeeper has educated hotel owners and employees on the specific vulnerabilities of hotels and their guests to crime. Lasting relationships between the lodging community and the Henrico County Police Division have been formed, resulting in the improvement of community quality of life and the lowering of overall crime.
Discovering Healthy Choices Through Nutrition Education in the Classroom
Three important missions of Henrico County Public School (HCPS) Nutrition Services are to provide the best food service possible by serving nutritious and appealing food, providing outstanding customer service and contributing to the quality of the student’s educational experience. In support of these missions, School Nutrition Services (SNS) created the Food Explorers: Virginia Fresh & Local. Food Explorers integrates lessons focused on nutrition, physical activity and agriculture in the classroom.
During the 2011-2012 school years, School Nutrition Services, School Health Nurses, the Virginia Department of Health and Field of Dreams Farm partnered to offer this program to second grade students. The program provides students not only education, but also hands-on learning experiences. Lessons, which are presented each month from November through May, also incorporate the Virginia Standards of Learning objectives for math, science, English and health.
Students need essential nutrients from vitamins and minerals in their diet that are found in fruits and vegetables. Studies show that students who have a better diet quality have improved academic performance. Because of Food Explorers, HCPS students appear to have an increased understanding and knowledge of Virginia-grown produce and are more likely to eat it.
Entrepreneurship Enrichment for Business and Marketing Students
Due to the downturn in the economy and the recent and prevalent outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries, the need to encourage young people to become entrepreneurs and local business owners has increased. A strong economy begins on a granular level—with the local, small business owner willing to produce, hire, and sell locally. Career and Technical Education (CTE) students currently learn about job opportunities specific to the course in which they are enrolled but a concerted effort to focus students’ attention on converting their job opportunities to local small business ownership and entrepreneurship has not been a priority. Therefore, the Young Entrepreneurs’ Symposium and Marketing Conference initiative was created as the first step in enhancing CTE’s entrepreneurship education by encouraging students to redirect their job focus to that of an entrepreneur. Henrico County Public Schools’ marketing teachers hosted at the second-annual Young Entrepreneurs’ Symposium and Marketing Conference for 200 marketing students and 86 middle school students at Virginia Center Commons. The purpose of this round-table format symposium provided several levels of opportunity for Henrico County Public School middle school business-FBLA and high school marketing-DECA students.
The Henrico Inclusive Communities Coalition Initiative
Two of the most important factors in education are to meet the needs of all students and to provide a positive learning environment that ensures every child meets his or her potential. This occurs when a school has strong leadership and excellent teachers. It also happens when a school division takes the time to focus on individual student needs, while proactively celebrating student differences and establishing a sense of tolerance within the community. The Henrico Inclusive Communities Coalition (ICC) Initiative does just that, as it provides ongoing bully prevention programming and mentoring support for struggling students. The initiative produced 524 mentors last year that served 1,029 students while providing bully prevention programming for more than 48,000 students.
Stakeholder Engagement in the Budget Process
Henrico County, Virginia, is a dynamic community with a history of commitment to and engagement of the public at large in government processes. Community involvement is one of Henrico County Public Schools’ (HCPS) primary objectives and a part of the strategic plan. Involving stakeholders in the budgeting process ensures the District is focusing on the wants and needs of the community it serves. The more directly related a need is to students’ learning, the higher it is on the budget priority list. It is the approach that stakeholders have asked for, and it is the approach that the school system has found works best. There are a number of indicators that are used to determine success in HCPS. As a result, several division level survey tools have been created to measure success. The survey tools created measure and evaluate staff, parent, student engagement and satisfaction with all facets of HCPS to include financial planning and stakeholder engagement related to the budget process.
The Prevention Project *(Best in Category)*
The Prevention Project is an educational program designed to teach students about the subject of human trafficking. Beginning in the summer of 2012, 31 students at The Center for Humanities at Hermitage High School completed a summer project about human trafficking. During the first semester, the students heard from a variety of speakers including FBI agents, victims of human trafficking, members of the Richmond Justice Initiative, and other educators on the topic. The purpose was twofold: first, to teach students about human trafficking, the factors that contribute to modern day slavery, and methods to end this growing problem. Second, students were tasked to create their own methods of advocacy, which resulted in a successful movie night and panel discussion, visiting three middle schools to share what they had learned about prevention, and lastly, visiting the Virginia General Assembly on January 11, 2013 to meet elected officials about pending legislation. As a result, students learned vital information about a growing international crime in a variety of ways and presented information, awareness, and prevention methods to other students, the community at large, and the Virginia General Assembly.
The Rain Garden at The Academy at Virginia Randolph
The students in the Horticulture Program at The Academy at Virginia Randolph and Virginia Randolph Education Center created a Rain Garden to mitigate the amount of storm water that would flow into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The collaborative project included career and technical education students from the school, exceptional education students from an adjacent school, employees of Henrico County Public Schools Construction and Maintenance Department, and support from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The result was a completed project that allowed all stakeholders to take ownership in an environmentally beneficial project that would reduce damage to their local ecosystem.
Truancy Reduction in Henrico County
Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) offers a wide variety of educational programs dedicated to developing outstanding citizens. However, the success of those programs is dependent upon students accessing them. The primary measure of that access is our division’s truancy rate. Students who are habitually absent are at increased risk for failure and potential drop out, which greatly limits their opportunities to be successful and contributing citizens. In response to an in-depth review of our truancy data, the school division developed a radical new approach to resource assignment and truancy prevention. Already, we have seen significant reductions in truancy rates across the division.