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 thirteen of its agencies have been recognized by NACo with eighteen Achievement Awards and one Best in Category award.
- Community Maintenance — Operation Paintbrush
- County Manager’s Office and Human Resources — Excellence in Public Service Awards Program
- Finance — Business Personal Property Assessment Reforms
- Fire and Police — Protector
- Human Resources — The Retention of Generation X
- Library — Read and Relax Summer Reading Program
- Library and Social Services — Make It and Take It
- Mental Health and Retardation — A Creative Approach to Organizational Change
- Planning — Wireless Communications Technology Element: 2010 Land Use Plan
- Planning — Central Gardens Neighborhood Plan
- Police — Safe Work Program
- Police — Auto Theft Enforcement and Prevention Initiative
- Public Utilities, Keep Henrico Beautiful — Litter Really “Bugs” Me
- Recreation and Parks — Dragon 2000
- Recreation and Parks and Public Works — Go with the Flow
- Schools — Tech Construction Prep at Highland Springs Technical Center
- Schools — Reach Out Henrico Schools
- Schools — Bond Referendum 2000
Operation Paintbrush is a program where volunteer groups are recruited to paint and perform minor house repairs on the homes of the needy. These are citizens without adequate resources or family help whose houses would further deteriorate without assistance. Typically, those assisted are senior citizens and most can be classified as very low income. They are screened for eligibility using federal guidelines for low and moderate income families. In total, Operation Paintbrush provides doable volunteer opportunities for interested church, civic and neighborhood groups while helping to meet the goals of neighborhood preservation and maintaining sustainable communities.
Excellence in Public Service Awards Program
Henrico County employees, in a new recognition program, nominate individuals within their department for the excellence in public service award. This program asks co-workers for their personal nomination of someone they work with who best exemplifies and demonstrates the values and qualities that are the hallmark of public service in Henrico County. Initiated by the County Manager, a focus group of County employees developed the program parameters and criteria for nomination along with developing the nomination form. A personal letter to all 3,300 employees from the County Manager accompanied this form. This letter was delivered to each employee by their department head explaining the program as well as each individual employee’s impact on such a program. Once a departmental selection was finalized each agency head submitted a name to the County Manager for consideration for a County-wide Excellence in Public Service Award. A committee was formed to assist the County Manager in selecting the county-wide recipient of this award. Public recognition of the nominees and the county-wide recipient was also part of the program which included a reception with newspaper coverage.
Business Personal Property Assessment Reforms
Beginning in 1997, the depreciation factors used to establish assessment values on business personal property assets were revised in Henrico County. Over 15,000 businesses file annually on personal property, reporting assets in excess of $2 billion. The County performed an extensive study of depreciation schedules used to assess personal property with the aims of promoting a more favorable climate for attracting cutting edge firms and encouraging economic growth. The implementation of accelerated depreciation schedules led to considerably lower personal property taxes for our business community.
Agency: Department of Finance
With 28 miles of shoreline along the eastern part of Henrico County, the James River produces a variety of challenges and hazards resulting from an increased amount of recreational and commercial traffic within the narrow waterway. In order to prevent and control these challenges and hazards, a combined law-enforcement and fire mission identified a need for a larger marine patrol vessel. Within a limited budget, the Henrico County Marine Patrol, a joint effort of the Division of Fire and the Division of Police, was able to accomplish its identified mission and responsibilities to the citizens by acquiring a retired United States Coast Guard 41 foot patrol boat. After a lengthy process to obtain the vessel, in-house resources and labor were utilized to place “Protector” in service. It is estimated the procurement and deployment of the “Protector” save Henrico County over $200,000.
The Retention of Generation X
While workplace diversity has received much attention in recent years, there has been a tendency to overlook generational differences in the workplace, despite the profound dissimilarities in attitude and perspective among employees of different generations. These differences are most apparent in the emerging future of our organizations — Generation X. Gen Xers, those 40 million individuals born in the United States between 1964 and 1974, have different needs and expectations of their employers. So how do you motivate and retain them — particularly when there are not enough of them to replace retiring Baby Boomers? In February 1999, Henrico County began an initiative to motivate and retain Generation X employees by educating management on these differences, and shifting to a managerial focus on career growth and development. As a result, the County has seen a culture change where Gen Xers are staying, learning and contributing. Employee turnover has dramatically declined among Generation X employees, and promotions have skyrocketed. Their input is valued and rewarded as they prepare for future career opportunities within the County.
Agency: Department of Human Resources
Read and Relax Summer Reading Program
Summer programs to encourage reading for children and teens have been provided for many years by the County of Henrico Public Library. Adults, however, also wanted and needed a summer reading program. The Relax and Read! Program was developed and offered to Henrico County library users during summer 2000. The intention was to design a program that met the busy schedules of adults. A reading log to record reading or listening selections was devised, as well as genre reading suggestions. The reading suggestions took the form of colorful bookmarks that participants could easily pick up and use. Awards for reaching goals were offered by the Friends of the County of Henrico Public Library. The Friends are volunteer library advocates whose donations of time and money benefit libraries at the branch and system-wide levels. Mugs were designed with a theme logo and were earned after reading or listening to eight books. Gift certificates to restaurants located within each library branch community were offered as a grand prize drawing at each of our eleven participating libraries.
Agency: Henrico County Public Library
Make It and Take It
To promote literacy and enhance the quality of day care in Henrico County, the Library formed a partnership with the Henrico County Department of Social Services to develop a series of four “Make It and Take It” hands-on workshops. The Public Library provided the classroom space, the Library’s children’s services staff organized the curriculum and the instructors and applied for a grant from the Henrico County Department of Social Services to cover the cost of materials for each workshop participant. The 75 child care providers who attended the “Make It and Take It” workshop received information about using effective flannel board presentations to enhance the literacy experience after reading picture books to a preschool audience.
A Creative Approach to Organizational Change
Henrico Area Mental Health and Retardation Services was struggling to keep up with the quickly changing demands of its environment. While strong leadership was present at the top of the organization, many other potential leaders were underdeveloped and often unaware of the strategic issues facing the organization as a whole. A creative effort over the past five years has enabled the organization to increase the effectiveness and number of its leaders and to educate the entire organization more fully about the strategic issues that must be addressed. Through these innovations, a good organization is being transformed into a high performance learning organization. Senior level staff are publicly learning from other staff and a new type of collaboration among staff is noticeable in day-to-day operation.
Wireless Communications Technology Element: 2010 Land Use Plan
The Henrico Planning staff prepared a wireless communication technology element as part of the 2010 Henrico County Land Use Plan. Prior to adoption of this land use plan element, the County Comprehensive Plan was silent in terms of wireless communication facilities. With this plan amendment, wireless facilities are now reviewed just like any other land use. There was a need to create detailed criteria for siting communication towers with special emphasis on protecting our residential areas. In addition to providing siting criteria, the County prepared an inventory of existing tower sites to assist the industry in possible co-location opportunities. This inventory is well used by the telecommunications industry. The goals of the wireless communications technology amendment focus on ensuring the adequate provision of telecommunications infrastructure in the county that will meet industry needs while minimizing impact on adjacent and surrounding land uses, especially existing and planned residential communities.
Agency: Planning Office
Central Gardens Neighborhood Plan
The Central Gardens neighborhood is an old residential area of the County. Residents are largely elderly homeowners on fixed incomes. Residents and planners wondered what would happen to the neighborhood as older residents began to leave and how existing residents might find the resources for the ongoing maintenance of the community. County officials proposed a working relationship including residents, County planners, County agencies and the neighborhood’s elected representative on the County Board of Supervisors. Planners sought an opportunity for County officials to better understand the resident’s concerns and for the residents to better understand constraints, opportunities and the availability of resources. Together they formulated the Central Gardens Neighborhood Plan that provided for the construction of the Hidden Creek Community Center, strengthening of the existing civic association, community involvement in crime prevention activities and a strategy for neighborhood improvements.
Agency: Planning Office
Safe Work Program
On October 1st, 1999 the Henrico County Division of Police introduced a program titled Safe Work in order to improve our ability to meet the crime prevention demands of the workplace community. We also wanted to enhance our response to the serious problem of crime and violence which continues to threaten and victimize our citizens while they work. The Safe Work Program is a workplace crime prevention model which encourages and develops organizational responsibility, executive level direction, and employee level action. The program will lead to the implementation of an effective workplace safety program which is self-driven and will provide self-protecting benefits. The Safe Work Program’s mission is crime prevention through partnership and education.
Auto Theft Enforcement and Prevention Initiative
The County of Henrico has experienced a significant level of economic and population growth within the last decade. As a result of the drastic increase in commercial and residential development, the efficiency of investigative programs has also required modification. In an effort to address the current and future threat of auto threats within the County, an aggressive campaign of selective enforcement actions and theft prevention programs were initiated. This program involved the expansion of the Auto Theft Unit and implementation of a Problem Oriented Policing/Community Oriented Policing model. Each of the three Auto Theft Unit members received advanced auto theft training through accredited agencies and additional training in Community Oriented Policing practices. The crime prevention events educate the public on auto theft prevention measures, foster community support, and enhance the level of citizen participation. The selective enforcement programs permit a more efficient allocation of Division and County resources.
Litter Really “Bugs” Me
The Keep Henrico beautiful program coordinator and committee members cooperated with the Henrico Public Library and Division of Recreation and Parks to create and implement an environmental education program for young children. This multifaceted, literature-based litter prevention program is geared toward preschool and elementary school age children. Keep Henrico Beautiful presented fifteen programs countywide to 538 children. This included seven child care facilities served by the Library Bookmobile, five library preschool story times, two child care facilities and one summer recreation program sponsored by Recreation and Parks. In addition 1,100 children created a litter bug craft at two major outdoor events. The program reached an audience that had not previously been considered, provided high visibility and public awareness of the litter problem in Henrico County and offered tips on how children can help keep Henrico and the environment beautiful. In addition to its Achievement Award recognition from NACo, this program also received a “Best in Category” Award.
Dragon 2000 was a very exciting and educational cultural exchange program between the County of Henrico and the People’s Republic of China. The County hosted five talented folk artists from the Chinese Federation of Literary and Artistic Circles and one interpreter for a 12 day visit centering around the Chinese New Year celebration – the Year of the Dragon. The Division of Recreation and Parks oversaw the entire visit and assisted the Henrico County Board of Supervisors’ efforts with the entire exchange program. With the support of the Richmond Chinese School, the Organization of Chinese Americans – Central Virginia Chapter, and local corporations and businesses, the community was treated to a two day Chinese New Year celebration at The Cultural Arts Center at Glenn Allen. Area school children from both public and private schools were also able to meet the artists through a series of programs and demonstrations.
Agency: Division of Recreation and Parks
Go with the Flow
Go with the Flow is an innovative program that was creatively designed to assist the County of Henrico’s efforts to protect and restore its streams, educate the public and improve the water quality throughout the County. In June 2000, local artist Dan Bartges approached County officials seeking a way to use his talents as a painter to help improve the County’s environment. Mr. Bartges painted five scenes of Tuckahoe Creek, a creek that winds through 240 acres of environmentally sensitive land owned by the County. In August 2000, he entered into an agreement with the County to donate all the proceeds from his paintings of Tuckahoe Creek. Money from the sale of the numbered prints and note cards are being used to support educational programs sponsored through the Division of Recreation and Parks and the Stream Assessment and Watershed Management Program developed by the Department of Public Works. Go with the Flow is helping raise public awareness and appreciation of Henrico County rivers, creeks, streams, marshes and swamps.
Tech Construction Prep at Highland Springs Technical Center
In March 2000, the Highland Springs Technical Center carpentry, electricity, and masonry teachers partnered with AT&T Broadband to organize, design, and establish an Internet web site where students can demonstrate their academic, technical, and employee ability skills on video resumes. The students include biographical and course information along with personal goals on their resumes. They also demonstrate their skills by performing a trade-related project or task, which will showcase their proficiency. Potential employers access this information in their search for workers. Additionally, students interested in post secondary education or apprenticeships used the video resumes to help them gain acceptance to the program of their choice.
Agency: Henrico County Public Schools
Reach Out Henrico Schools
The Reach Out Henrico Schools (ROHS) program at Henrico County Public Schools meets the needs of the community by providing easily accessible and even interactive information in several different media. The three-pronged effort is aimed at a wide variety of citizens — parents, students, seniors, business people, school personnel, and residents. This program involves providing information in several key forms — in print via a regular newspaper, on television, and by the Internet. The School system’s newspaper provides information about school activities, student successes, School Board actions, upcoming meetings and events. The Henrico County Public Schools web site was developed to provide the most current school system information, notify the public of changes in policy, provide information on school boundaries, and communicate individual school news. The Television Services department provides information and news on AT&T Broadband cable channel 36. Information is broadcast from 6:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week. Programming consists of news, sports, music, art, student performances, and special shows ranging from alumni events to programs for senior citizens.
Agency: Henrico County Public Schools
Bond Referendum 2000
Henrico County is experiencing rapid growth both residentially and commercially. Due to limited current tax resources, County administrators recognized that a bond referendum would be necessary to continue to provide exceptional, quality services to its residents. Since there was the possibility of a tax increase associated with this referendum, administrators wanted citizens to have the opportunity to make educated decisions regarding each of the proposed questions that would be listed on the November ballot. A massive information campaign that included both County government and schools was initiated to assure that all County residents received accurate and factual information. School and County government agencies collectively agreed upon the medium to disseminate this important information to the community. The goal was not to influence votes, but to develop a presentation that would provide information needed to make an informed decision regarding each proposed issue. Five speakers bureaus were formed that included a member from each of the agencies listed on the ballot. Information programs were offered to the community and letters to that effect were sent to a variety of organizations. The teams held over 120 informational presentations ranging in attendance from six to 400 citizens. Citizens could also access bond information on an interactive web site. Information was also available on television shows and commercials on the school system’s cable channel 36, in monthly newsletters and newspapers from schools and County government, in local newspapers and on local television stations.
Agency: Henrico County Public Schools