Henrico County general government departments and offices as well as Henrico County Public Schools have been honored by the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) for four initiatives representing excellence in local services.
VACo recognized 17 programs in its 2017 Achievement Awards competition among 79 entries submitted by member counties across the state. Henrico and Chesterfield counties collected four awards apiece, more than any other county. VACo will salute the winners of its 15th awards competition during its annual conference in November.
“Virginia consistently earns praise for the quality of its local governments and the services they provide. Henrico is pleased to contribute to this reputation,” Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “We have worked hard to foster a culture of innovation and continuous improvement among our employees, and we salute our friends in counties across the commonwealth who accept a similar challenge every day.”
Among Henrico’s winning entries, Henrico County Public Library earned an award for its Children and Teen Neighborhood Collections. The collections organize selected titles by theme, rather than by author’s last name, and better reflect the way children and teens look for books of interest. The collections, which started at the Gayton Branch Library in 2012 and expanded systemwide in 2016, provide children collections organized by a subject, such as Dinosaurs and Transportation. The teen collections group materials by a mood or emotion, including Ugly Cry and Laugh Out Loud.
The County Manager’s Office earned an award for the Local Government 101: Youth Education Program. Geared for children and teenagers, the program offers an interactive seminar that explains the structure and functions of county government and provides opportunities to learn about civic responsibilities and to attend a public meeting. Henrico has held six sessions since the program started in 2016, giving local youth opportunities to pursue an interest in government, earn class credit or satisfy requirements for Scouting merit badges.
Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) received an award for its Student Congress. Established in 2004, the Student Congress gives 10 student representatives from each of the county’s 10 high schools a chance to participate in the decision-making process for HCPS. The Student Congress, which meets quarterly, allows members to develop leadership skills and learn team dynamics. It also gives HCPS directors and specialists access to a diverse sounding board as changes to policies, regulations and curricula are considered.
Henrico won an award for its Zika Working Group and the Pick-a-Day to Fight-the-Bite Initiative. The group is focused on preventing the Asian tiger mosquito, which is a potential carrier of the Zika virus. Consisting of representatives of the Department of Public Works’ Standing Water Initiative, Department of Health and Division of Fire, the group developed a comprehensive strategy based on communication, education and outreach that aims to prevent or slow transmission of the Zika virus locally and includes a plan for quick and efficient intervention if transmission occurs.