Begun in 1970, the annual National Association of Counties’ (NACo) Achievement Award Program is a non-competitive awards program which seeks to recognize innovative county government programs called County Model Programs. Created as a part of NACo’s New County, USA Campaign, the Achievement Award Program continues to embody the grassroots and local government energy the program was designed to promote. The main emphasis of the New County, USA campaign was to modernize and streamline county government and to increase its services to its citizens, goals that are still the main emphasis of the Achievement Award Program today.

County governments across the country, working alone and in cooperation with other governments at the municipal, state and national levels, continue to develop innovative and successful programs in a wide range of service areas, including arts and historic preservation, children and youth, community and economic development, corrections, county administration, emergency management, environmental protection, health, human services, libraries, parks and recreation, transportation, volunteers and much more. The Achievement Awards Program gives national recognition to county accomplishments, and has enabled NACo to build a storehouse of county success stories that can be passed on to other counties.

This year, Henrico County is proud to note that it has been recognized by NACo with thirteen Achievement Awards and one Best in Category award.

List of Award Winners

  • Commonwealth’s Attorney — “Open Arms? Open Eyes!” — Power, Control and Abuse in Teen Relationships
  • Human Resources — A Non-Traditional Approach to Recruitment
  • Human Resources and County Manager’s Office — Planning for Continued Excellence — Henrico County’s Critical Issues Process
  • Human Resources — Wellness: An Employee Education Program
  • Library — SAM: The Smart Solution for Public Library Computers
  • Planning — Urban Mixed Use Development Guidelines
  • Planning — Commercial Assistance Team
  • Planning — Proffer Web Page
  • Schools — HCPS Communication Committee
  • Schools — In-House On-Line Professional Development
  • Schools — K-12 Planet — The On-Line, Anytime Academic Performance Information Tool
  • Schools — On-Line Essentials of the Curriculum Cards
  • Schools — Teacher Recruitment Program CD

1. “Open Arms? Open Eyes!” — Power, Control and Abuse in Teen Relationships

Despite increased efforts and resources, domestic assault cases continue to increase. Young people often see violence in the home and in the media, and imitate those abusive and violent behaviors when they begin dating. To break this cycle of violence, the Community Criminal Justice Board formed a task force to develop a dating violence awareness program for the County’s 18,000 middle and high school students. “Open Arms? Open Eyes!”, the resulting multi-media program, is now part of the 8th grade curriculum and more than 250 copies of the video have been distributed across the state. Plans for the national distribution are being actively pursued. “Open Arms? Open Eyes!” is an innovative example of interagency collaboration funded by the public and private sectors.

Agency: Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office

Contact Us: Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office

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2. A Non-Traditional Approach to Recruitment

Some positions are difficult to fill and retain for local governments. For Henrico County, this is often true for equipment operator positions. The labor pool for these positions tends to be transient and less interested in non-tangible compensation, such as benefits, job security and retirement, making it difficult to fill and retain these positions. In 2002, the County had a large number of vacancies in Equipment Operator I positions in several departments. The Department of Human Resources, working with these agencies, developed a non-traditional approach to recruiting for this position – an Equipment Operator Job Fair. The day consisted of extensive oral and visual information, on-the-spot interviews and assistance in completing applications. The Fair was highly successful, with the number of attendees, applicants and hirings far exceeding expectations.

Agency: Department of Human Resources

Contact Us: Department of Human Resources

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3. Planning for Continued Excellence — Henrico County’s Critical Issues Process

Identification of the most pressing issues facing Henrico County was a primary goal of the County Manager as he looked toward the year 2000 and beyond. The Manager, with the Human Resources Department, developed a long-term process that would ensure that the County would be prepared for the inevitable changes that would occur in the future, continue to provide a high level of customer service and quality of life and create an awareness of critical issues among County leaders. Using an interdepartmental, cross-functional collaborative process, an intensive research effort began that focused on outcomes, objectives, strategies and action plans. The process created a roadmap and a model for future County initiatives.

Agency: Department of Human Resources

Contact Us: Department of Human Resources

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4. Wellness: An Employee Education Program

Managing spiraling health care costs while supporting optimal employee health presents significant challenges even during the best economic times. The Employee Education Program addresses these challenges by equipping the County’s diverse workforce to become better informed health care consumers. This program provides an integrated approach to workforce education for increasing employees’ awareness of their role in achieving personal health and containing health care costs. Through independent offerings of individualized wellness services, general health and wellness education resources, cost containment education initiatives and targeted health education plans, this program provides a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to this increasingly complex issue.

Agency: Department of Human Resources

Contact Us: Department of Human Resources

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5. SAM: The Smart Solution for Public Library Computers

In 1999, the Henrico Public Library expanded resources and added public use computers to their traditional offerings of books and reference services. These computers included an online catalog, web surfing, emailing and software applications. All this technology was offered free of charge to anyone visiting any Henrico library. Challenges associated with managing this robust network included a growing number of daily users, recovering printing costs and managing access to objectionable material. The Library customized, tested and installed SAM, the Smart Access Manager, on over 220 public use computers. Now patrons can log on to any computer with a library card, use up to two hours of time daily, select between filtered and unfiltered Internet access if an adult and pay as they print with a library debit card. The innovative system addresses civic concerns, individuality and fiscal responsibility.

Agency: Henrico Public Library

Contact Us: Henrico Public Library

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6. Urban Mixed Use Development Guidelines

Henrico County began experiencing tremendous growth in the 1960’s and parts continue to develop rapidly today. However, some areas of the County are starting to experience problems associated with older, urbanized areas. The County created a new land use category within its comprehensive plan and a new zoning district to accommodate a new type of development – referred to as a urban mixed use (UMU) development. The provisions permit development of a pedestrian-oriented mixed use project combining a variety of land uses, including business, retail, residential, cultural, educational and other public and private uses in a single structure or group of structures on a parcel or group of parcels. The guidelines encourage innovative, creative designs, high quality redevelopment in older commercial and industrial areas and facilitate investment by introducing greater regulatory flexibility.

Agency: Planning Office

Contact Us: Planning Office

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7. Commercial Assistance Team

The Commercial Assistance Team was created to encourage investment and redevelopment in the County’s older commercial, industrial and retail areas. The Team is comprised of the Directors of Planning, Public Works and Public Utilities, the Building Official and other key staff. Any owner or business interested in renovating or expanding in an older commercial structure can seek assistance related to the rezoning process, plan of development review, parking or setback standards and other land use regulations. The Commercial Assistance Team seeks to provide expedited plan review, regulatory guidance and identify incentives for development. It seeks to encourage reinvestment in older areas by providing the needed flexibility in interpretation and administration of development regulations and alternatives to property owners when proposed improvements cannot be accommodated within the current regulatory framework.

Agency: Planning Office

Contact Us: Planning Office

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8. Proffer Web Page

Henrico County is a fast-growing suburban locality adjacent to the City of Richmond, Virginia. The Proffer Web Page is an electronic collection of proffered conditions accepted with rezoning cases approved by the Henrico Board of Supervisors. The collection contains over one thousand documents dating from 1978, the year proffers were first accepted by Henrico. In addition to the textual information, the collection includes a map of the affected area for each document. This visual aid eliminates additional research often required to fully evaluate the records. The entire collection is available on the Planning Office’s Web site, allowing easy access by staff and the general public. Combined with the County’s Geographic Information System, the project has significantly decreased the amount of time needed to conduct thorough research. During its relatively short existence, it has become an essential research tool used throughout the development process to ensure quality projects are produced.

Agency: Planning Office

Contact Us: Planning Office

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9. HCPS Communication Committee

The Henrico County Public Schools Communication Committee is a new program initiated to provide a steady stream of information to key opinion leaders in the community. The school system needed an effective, reliable means to access community leaders when it had good news to share and also to give a source of correct information when something incorrect was printed or displayed in the media. It has also proven to be a source of developing trusting relationships and an opportunity for two-way, open communication. Since this new program was implemented, the Schools have reaped great benefits. These include timely, direct, “first-hand” information promptly distributed to a wide array of community members and enhanced public understanding of school system goals and operations, all in a cost-effective manner.

Agency: Public Relations, Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

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10. In-House On-Line Professional Development

During the 2001-02 school year, the Henrico County Public Schools used its own employees, primarily teachers, to develop in-house, on-line professional development courses for its teachers. Led by two school district technology trainers, seventeen teachers developed seventeen distinct on-line courses that were available 24 hours a day. The content was carefully tailored to the assessed needs of Henrico students and teachers. Having been developed by teachers, teacher capacity increased as did that of others in the organization. These teacher leaders trained and worked with other teachers. Due to the success of this program, an additional twenty in-house, on-line courses are under development.

Agency: Public Relations, Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

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11. K-12 Planet — The On-Line, Anytime Academic Performance Information Tool

K-12 Planet provides parents and students access to student academic performance that is updated by classroom teachers on a weekly basis and to student homework assignments on a daily basis. With this web-based tool, parents can view their students’ academic performance or their homework assignments in all classes anytime, anywhere Internet service is available. Additionally, parents can contact teachers via K-12 Planet’s email feature, further enhancing the communication between the school and home. This in-time information system gives parents the opportunity to know their students’ grades, attendance and homework assignments so that, when needed, parent-initiated interventions can occur. Password protected, K-12 Planet is a secure informational tool that makes it possible for teachers and parents to share information that strengthens the overall educational experience for students. This program also received a Best in Category award in the Civics Education and Public Information category.

Agency: Public Relations, Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

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12. On-Line Essentials of the Curriculum Cards

The Henrico County Public Schools web site has been an invaluable resource to the community. The site is used to announce the details of the dynamic Teaching and Learning Laptop Initiative, market the Henrico Advantage, which details the additional benefits of being a school employee and promote our cable channel Henrico 36, by providing program descriptions and a weekly programming guide. On-Line Essentials of the Curriculum Cards was most recently added. This has given parents the opportunity to evaluate the course curriculum for all classes offered by the schools. These cards, specific to each available course, provide the framework of the curriculum, offer connections to other curriculum areas and in most cases give students quick study points. Since all middle and high school students now have a wireless laptop and can access the Internet, the web site is on the leading edge of the schools’ effort to provide the community with the most accurate and comprehensive information.

Agency: Public Relations, Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

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13. Teacher Recruitment Program CD

Henrico County Public Schools embarked on an aggressive teacher recruitment program in the 2001-02 and 2002-03 school years. The program has made extensive use of computer technology. The centerpiece of the technology outreach is a comprehensive compact disc highlighting the excellence and innovations that are the hallmark of Henrico County Public Schools. Also highlighted are descriptions of teacher incentives and information about living and working in the region and the state. The CD makes extensive use of videos that show typical classrooms, interviews with teachers and students and depictions of school life. Prominently featured are student and teacher testimonies about the advantages of a laptop computer deployment for all middle and high school students and teachers, the first initiative of its kind in the United States. In addition, the CD is designed to work in concert with the schools’ web site which is updated daily. Hyperlinks allow the user to access the most current information on the site such as current job vacancies, benefits and on-line applications. The CD is detailed, comprehensive, informative and attractive.

Agency: Public Relations, Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

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