Henrico County has received 22 Achievement awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo), more than any other Virginia locality this year. The awards were presented at the 2011 NACo annual conference, held July 15 -19 in Multnomah County, Oregon.

Visit the National Association of Counties’ Web site

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.

Victim Restitution Information Processing System (RIPS)
Department of Community Corrections

When a court punishes someone for a crime against a county citizen or business, an essential part of the court’s order is to pay the victim for any financial loss or damages. The Community Corrections Program (CCP) is the county agency required to implement these court orders and process the restitution payments for victims. In order to meet court mandates and victim customer service expectations, the ability to track offender compliance and facilitate payments to the victims is paramount. Having started the CCP 12 years ago with only a few cases and no additional staffing, the workload has grown 1,000%, to managing 1,500 active cases and processing an average 200 payments a month, with only part-time staffing available.

County of Henrico Homeowner’s Enhancement Guide
Department of Community Revitalization

Henrico County, working with Frazier Associates, developed the Homeowner’s Enhancement Guide as a means of maintaining the stability and desirability of its mature neighborhoods. Like many urbanizing counties, Henrico has neighborhoods of older houses in need of modernization and rehabilitation. These neighborhoods provide quality, affordable housing for working families, and the County is dedicated to their preservation and revitalization. The Guide is for homeowners and prospective purchasers of these mature homes. Elements of the Guide are of value for newer homes as well. The Guide contains photographs of different styles of homes that exist in Henrico County and shows how improvements can enhance the appearance of the home. Individual chapters focus on improvements to the most popular styles found in Henrico County: Ranch, Cape Cod, Split Level, Colonial Revival and Bungalow. Examples of exterior improvements include such things as new windows and doors, dormers, front porches, decks, additions, garages, landscaping and lighting. Interior improvements include illustrations of renovations, floor plans for opening up rooms and placement of additions, and improvements to facilitate aging in place. Written sections include information on energy efficiency and green renovation concepts, landscaping and lawn care, financing of improvements, selecting a contractor, building permits, zoning and other renovation and remodeling advice.

Enhancing the Business License and Personal Property Audit Program
Department of Finance

The County has 20,000+ taxpayers which file either a business license or personal property tax return that generates in excess of $60M in revenue annually. In order to ensure these businesses are reporting properly, an extensive audit program has been developed. Each year the auditors initially perform desk reviews of the larger returns to correct the more conspicuous errors. The balance of the year is then devoted to conducting field audits to ensure the accuracy of the underlying financial data. During the past five (5) years, the audit program has been enhanced to improve the level of customer service and efficiency, as well as generate additional revenue. The actions taken include:

  • Assigning responsibility for handling inquiries on a business account by (alpha) among the staff;
  • Imaging the business tax returns and work papers so they can be readily retrieved;
  • Setting quantitative “goals” in regards to the number of field audits;

Vastly expanding the number of desk reviews. The results from these changes have been exceptional. Not only have the combined number of audits and reviews increased, but the corresponding revenue generated by the Auditors jumped over $16M (or nearly 160%) during a comparable time period.

Managing Debt Service Expenditures During an Economic Downturn
Department of Finance

During the most recent economic downturn, Henrico County used a number of cost cutting approaches to mitigate a $91 million drop in General Fund revenues between FY2008-09 and FY2010-11. One of these approaches required an aggressive approach to refunding every possible debt coupon the County had during what was an extremely volatile economic period, but one in which municipal bond rates dropped to lows not seen since the 1950’s.

Beginning in February 2009, Henrico County refunded existing debt four times over a 15 month period. This aggressive approach required a coordinated and concise effort between the County’s management, the County’s Financial Advisor, and the County’s external auditors.

All aspects of this approach needed to be executed flawlessly as Henrico County maintains AAA/AAA/Aaa bond ratings and some municipalities ratings were downgraded during this most recent economic difficulty.

In the end, these debt refundings reduced future debt service payments by $17.73 million due to the County’s proactive efforts in refunding debt at a time when municipal bond rates were at extremely attractive levels.

Get Connected, Stay Connected!
Department of Human Resources

Henrico County realized and responded to the organizational change needed to move its employees towards 21st century web-based, self-service technologies. Henrico County was preparing for implementation of a state-of-the-art human resources management system (HRMS) but in order for all employees to be able to utilize the system, basic computer skill levels needed to be assessed and appropriate training provided ensuring that all County employees would be able to utilize the system effectively. To successfully accomplish this change across a technologically diverse employee base of over 4,000 employees, collaborative partnerships were established with every departmental agency, creating what has become a best practice in raising the bar for our employees’ overall skill base.

“Get Connected, Stay Connected” implementation strategies included: clearly defining employees’ accessibility to computers in the workplace and at home, establishing technology skill baselines, administering skill assessments, and partnering with internal county resources in the areas of learning, technology, change, and communications, and providing gap training where needed.

As a result, County employees (regardless of position or computer skill level) are now able to utilize the HRMS for time reporting, benefit open enrollment, training registration, performance review, and more.

Supporting Employee Resiliency during Turbulent Times
Department of Human Resources

The statistics are staggering! It has been reported nationally that 30% of workers say they are often under stress at work and 50% don’t think their employer has an interest in their well-being.* Henrico County’s Human Resources Department (HR) recognized that employees need added resources in stress management and resiliency during difficult economic times. Implementing the Resiliency Initiative in January 2009, 18 courses were provided to over 600 employees. Courses were offered to all County employees including specific target groups: employees nearing retirement, administrative professionals, and County leaders at all levels including upper managers.

Dramatically exceeding goals, 1,294 employees registered for 637 available seats; 86% increased skills in the Personal Accountability competency; 91% of leaders increased skills in Leading and Influencing; and employees reported increased productivity. The Employee Development & Training and Fitness & Wellness divisions of HR partnered to offer the programs. After attending class, one in five participants accessed Fitness & Wellness services, furthering their resiliency.

Costing only $41.72 per participant, this initiative was spectacularly successful in providing resources to employees during a time of great need. In addition to the tangible results, the resulting good will from employees showing appreciation for these programs will benefit the County for years to come.

The Henrico County Games
Department of Human Resources

The Henrico County Games was designed to enhance employee experience with the Department of Human Resources’ Fitness and Wellness Division. The County strives to promote wellness by encouraging employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle through innovative programming. The Henrico County Games provided a unique way to boost employee morale, inter-departmental teamwork, and county pride all by having fun! The Henrico County Games brought together various departments to compete against one another in 3 events over a three month period. From the team Tug-Of-War, the Mental Skills Challenge, and the 2-mile Cross Country Run – involving as many employees as possible was the goal. In all, 13 teams representing 8 different county departments competed to earn the coveted Championship Award – awarded to the team with the highest team score. In addition to improved morale, 34% of participating employees did not have previous experience with the Department of Human Resources’ Fitness and Wellness efforts. The Henrico County Games also boosted fitness and wellness programming participation numbers by 24%.

An Approach For Reducing Telecommunications Costs
Department of Information Technology

About three years ago the management and support for County telecommunications was transferred from the Department of General Services to the Department of Information Technology (I.T.). Henrico County spends a significant amount annually on telecommunications, making this an ideal target for identifying and reducing costs. Using the Oracle Application Express (Apex) software environment, I.T. staff developed a customized, comprehensive web browser based system referred to as TELE with functionality including inventory, work orders, call history and automated departmental billing.The creation of the database permitted detailed analysis of telecommunications costs which led to appreciable cost savings.The TELE application has also allowed the County to do all intradepartmental billing paperlessly with Interdepartmental Transfers (IDTs) automatically generated and processed into the County’s Oracle eBusiness Suite. Additionally, I.T. staff downloads data from phone service providers into the TELE system and uses customized discrepancy reports to help identify areas of concern regarding billing issues, such as cramming charges (a charge to your phone bill for a service you didn’t order, agree to, or use), inappropriate tax charges, significant changes in month-to-month billing totals, and so forth. Recent new functionality includes the implementation of credit card payment for telecommunication services. This has eliminated the need to manually produce and mail many checks each month, as well as allowing the County to get a rebate on paid phone charges from the issuing credit card company.

Innsbrook Area Study
Department of Planning

The Innsbrook Area Study creates a redevelopment strategy for a vital economic component of Henrico County. It is a blueprint for future growth that builds upon the existing infrastructure of an area that saw success and rapid expansion during the 1980s and 1990s, and recent challenges due to the economic downturn. Growing vacancy rates and a need to keep pace with more modern development trends required a thorough evaluation of existing land use designations and zoning requirements, with the goal of promoting mixed-use development that would ensure a bright future for this once thriving office park.

Relying heavily on technology and a higher level of public participation, along with traditional land use study methods, study documents were created in-house by Department of Planning staff and ultimately adopted by the Board of Supervisors after extensive feedback from stakeholders. The mixed-use development strategies created as part of the Innsbrook Area Study position the area for redevelopment over the next fifty years. While urban mixed-use developments have become more popular throughout the nation, to our knowledge none have developed a framework for the redevelopment of a suburban office park into a mixed-use community, which makes the Innsbrook Area Study a model program for Henrico County and other localities.

Online Development Plan Review System
Department of Planning

Henrico County (Virginia) launched a county-wide initiative to address the efficiency and effectiveness of its development review process. A major result of this initiative was the creation of a modern-day internet application known as the Online Development Plan Review System (https://henrico.us/comments/ ). This system was designed, specifically, to interact with the County’s already established development review tracking software, Tidemark Advantage. The Development Plan Review System has enhanced the overall efficiency of disseminating agency review comments to both internal and external users. It relies on various internal employees throughout the county to populate the program with their respective comments. These comments are then turned into instant e-mail notifications to all other agencies involved, developers/applicants, and interested citizens with links to the posted comments. In addition, the instant e-mail notifications have added a layer of transparency for the development community and the general public who can now better monitor development projects around the county. The implementation of this system has become a true example of how government and the private-sector can work together to solve common problems and enhance service.

P.E.A.K. – Police, Educators, and Kids
Division of Police

Henrico P.E.A.K. is an educational and crime prevention program geared towards elementary school students from kindergarten through 5th grade. In cooperation with Henrico County Public Schools, P.E.A.K. focuses on creating a positive relationship between police officers and juveniles while focusing on education and good decision making skills, ultimately developing productive citizens.

P.E.A.K. officers have created 17 comprehensive lesson plans which cover a range of topics from drug education and avoidance, making good decisions, and 21st century life skills. In coordination with each fifth grade teacher, P.E.A.K. officers select 6 lessons which are directly related to issues students in that school may be exposed to or have to deal with. This allows officers the flexibility to provide instruction which is specific and “real” to the students.

Additionally, P.E.A.K. officers provide safety and security at the school. They are the primary contact for the entire school community on safety/security and law enforcement matters at the school. P.E.A.K officers handle calls for service, train faculty on critical incident response, serve on safety committees, and work with parents to provide a safe learning environment for everyone at the school.

Tourist Information Center
Division of Recreation and Parks

Henrico County was approaching its 400th Anniversary in 2011 and wanted to spread the word far and wide. The creation of Henrico County’s first Tourist Information Center was a collaborative effort between the Henrico 2011 Commemoration Advisory Commission, the Division of Recreation and Parks, and the County Manager’s Office. The timely establishment of this state-accredited Tourist Information Center has promoted Henrico history to both local residents and visitors and also encouraged tourism for the region during Henrico County’s 2011 celebration of its 400th Anniversary as the second oldest English settlement in the New World. Almost 600 individuals have visited the Center since its opening in September 2010 and experienced Henrico County history in the historic Dabbs House Museum. Visitors from Canada, Scotland, South Africa, Holland and 27 of the 50 American states have helped make this Tourist Information Center a success.

The 400th Anniversary Notable Henricoans Database
Public Library

Henrico County, Virginia surrounds the city of Richmond (Virginia’s state capitol) on three sides. To celebrate its 400″ anniversary, Henrico County established a core group of county leaders known as the 400″ Anniversary Commemoration Commission charged with developing a comprehensive plan for celebrating this event. Henrico County Public Library felt they could make a major contribution by creating a database of notable Henrico citizens. This online database now provides thoroughly researched information on 130 deceased Henrico citizens compiled from numerous print and online resources. Accessed through the http://www.henricolibrary.org website, the unique database can be used by people of all ages throughout the world who have interest in persons important to Henrico County history. Following the commemoration year, it will continue as an online resource through Henrico’s public library website.

Accessing Healthcare and Enhancing Education
Henrico County Public Schools

In the spring of 2010, Henrico County Public School’s (HCPS) implemented an outreach program to assist families in obtaining low cost or free health insurance for children. The program, FAMIS, stands for Family Access to Medical Insurance Security. It provides health care services like: doctor visits, checkups, hospital visits, vaccinations, prescriptions, tests, x-rays, dental care, emergency care, vision care, and mental health. This program has the potential to benefit over 3,500 children in Henrico through increased availability to healthcare, which will enhance children’s access to education. Children who are unhealthy oftentimes do not attend school, and those who do express difficulty with concentration and spend educational time in the clinic. The funding for this program was provided by Virginia Health Care Foundation and will be in place for a period of 19 months. At the completion of the program, the project will be streamlined and institutionalized within the school system.

Big Nurse Little Nurse
Henrico County Public Schools

Big Nurse, Little Nurse was designed in order to bridge the gap between first year, Practical Nurse I (PNI), and second year, Practical Nurse II (PNII), students that attend Henrico County-St. Mary’s Hospital School of Practical Nursing. These students attend three locations at different times of day, which makes it difficult to communicate with one another. Peer to peer interactions is a valuable tool in helping to achieve learning outcomes. This program was introduced to the second year nursing students (Big Nurse) in order to provide mentoring to the first year nursing students (Little Nurse). The Big Nurse Group was given the task to develop activities that would help increase communication and provide mentoring opportunities for the Little Nurse Group. The Big Nurse Group was charged with developing goals of the group and implementing the activities to reach stated goals. Over a two-year period, the program has exceeded the goals and proves to be a vital part of the nursing program’s success.

Career Café
Henrico County Public Schools

Students of all ages need to be exposed to diverse career opportunities throughout their education. This becomes especially important for students taking a non-traditional route to complete high school or a high school equivalency (GED). As part of the Individual Student Alternative Education Plan (ISAEP) for high school GED students and adult ABE/GED and ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) programs, exposure to a variety of careers can become a challenge since these programs are housed outside the traditional schools and technical centers. Henrico County Public Schools Adult Education Program developed the Career Café as a way of providing high school GED students and adult ABE/GED and ESOL students’ access to career information.

Certification of CTE Students: Ensuring a Competent Workforce
Henrico County Public Schools

Since 2008, the Career & Technical Education (CTE) Department in Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) has enthusiastically embraced the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) High Stakes Credentialing Initiative. CTE recognized the importance of such an initiative by responding with the development of a position entitled, CTE Credential Testing Coordinator. In fact, HCPS was the first school division in the Commonwealth to create such a position, which is specifically designed for the development, implementation and evaluation of a credential testing process and timeline.

H21: Training for Teaching in the 21st Century
Henrico County Public Schools

21st century skills integration has long been a focus of Henrico County Public Schools. In the past, schools pursued this individually and sharing between schools of best practice examples was limited. There were many great teachers in the district but they were isolated and their influence rarely spread beyond their school. Therefore, Henrico 21 was created to showcase and reward outstanding lessons that exemplify the use of technology to support 21st century teaching and learning. All teachers in Henrico County were encouraged to submit their best lessons for review. In addition, teachers submitted high quality student projects. A panel of local 21st century skills experts, including teachers, librarians, principals, community members, and central office specialists was assembled to review over 600 submissions. A scoring rubric based on standards from the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) and The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) was used to identify top lessons. Videos of the lessons and products, along with interviews of the teachers and students, were shown throughout the Awards Ceremony, and even more importantly, the exemplary lesson plans and videos now reside in an interactive online repository for all teachers in the school district.

On the Sidelines with Sports Medicine
Henrico County Public Schools

Sports Medicine is a course designed to provide high school juniors and seniors with a strong foundation in the field of sports medicine, athletic training and other health related fields. Students gain knowledge and skills in injury prevention, injury recognition, physical assessment, management, disposition, and rehabilitation of injuries. Along with the didactic and skills lab portions of this course, students work with the athletic trainers, coaches, and/or activity directors of their home high schools to gain valuable hands on training and expertise in the area of sports medicine and athletic training.

Project Homeless Connect
Henrico County Public Schools

Cosmetology students from Hermitage Technical Center and Highland Springs Technical Center, along with their instructors, took the opportunity to serve the greater Richmond community by offering free haircuts at “Project Homeless Connect.” An annual one day, one stop event that connects individuals experiencing homelessness with on-site medical care and a variety of other social services.

Participating in this event gave students a chance to work alongside their instructors and industry professionals performing the skills learned in their classroom training. Twenty-five (25) students and three instructors assisted well over a hundred individuals with haircuts in a two-hour period. The experience each student gained by being a part of this event was more than the practical aspect; it gave them a chance to learn about giving back to the community and an understanding of the needs of others, especially in these tough economic times.

Teachers for Tomorrow Annual Institute
Henrico County Public Schools

The Teachers for Tomorrow Annual Institute provides juniors and seniors enrolled in a teacher preparation course in Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) the opportunity to experience real world professional development, network with other future educators across the county, and expand their community to embrace leadership skills, creative ideas, and diversity. The Teachers for Tomorrow course is an honors-level course offered in the Family and Consumer Sciences department, which is a subset of Career and Technical Education (CTE) in Henrico County Public Schools. Since 2006, the institute has improved the educational experience of nearly 1,000 Teachers for Tomorrow students in Henrico County. Each year, approximately 200 students eagerly attend the one-day county-wide annual event. Students rotate through sets of professional development activities which focus on problem solving, community action, literacy, professional dress, classroom management, decisions affecting today’s schools, writing effective lesson plans, integrating technology in the classroom, and funding a college education to name a few. The Teachers for Tomorrow Annual Institute promotes intergovernmental cooperation between the school system and the county library, as well as local private partners. Together, these entities provide opportunities for youth that otherwise would not be possible.

Virginia Randolph Knights Give Back
Henrico County Public Schools

Virginia Randolph Knights Give Back is a comprehensive community based service-learning project that was introduced to The Academy at Virginia Randolph students at the beginning of the 2009 school year. The program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to participate in projects that benefit the citizens of Henrico County. A grant was awarded by the Henrico Education Foundation to provide lunches while the students participated on full-day community service-learning field trips. This program provides the students with the chance to learn more about existing programs within Henrico County and allow them to participate in a way that deepened their understanding of their community’s needs.

Henrico DSS Title IV-E QA Team
Department of Social Services (DSS)

Effective communication within an organization is not only necessary for successful program implementation and positive programmatic outcomes, in some cases, it is necessary to insulate an organization against fiscal risk.

The Henrico Department of Social Services (DSS) Title IV-E Quality Assurance(QA) Team is a cross functional team tasked with the oversight, administration and quality assurance review of one of the most complicated federal and state programs that provides funding for foster care youth in need of supportive services.

Since 2006, this team has reduced fiscal risk exposure to the agency by 100% through quality assurance reviews, strengthened communication, and enhanced technology to ensure the proper coding of costs to the appropriate program.

More importantly, this team demonstrates the effectiveness of high performance matrix teams in a human services environment that can be replicated in other agencies to improve performance, effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery.

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