Henrico wins 22 national awards for programs
Henrico County recently received 22 Achievement awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo), more than any Virginia county and sixth-most nationally. The awards were announced at the 2011 NACo annual conference, held July 15-19 in Portland, Ore.
The NACo Achievement Award Program recognizes groundbreaking county government programs annually in a broad range of service areas, including education, administration, parks and recreation, health and human services.
Henrico now has led Virginia counties in NACo Achievement awards for six straight years. The county trailed only major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, San Diego and Miami Dade counties in the 2011 competition. Henrico programs have received 171 NACo awards since 2000.
NACo honored Henrico programs developed and implemented by 11 county agencies. Programs and agencies receiving awards were:
• “Victim Restitution Information Processing System (RIPS),” Community Corrections; an automated tracking system for restitution payments by criminal offenders, RIPS significantly reduced the time needed to deliver payments to victims and helped the agency collect a record amount of restitution last year;
• “Homeowners’ Enhancement Guide,” Community Revitalization; this comprehensive 138-page handbook — also available on disk and online — provides illustrations, diagrams, checklists and other resources to help homeowners modernize their aging homes;
• “Enhancing the Business License and Personal Property Audit Program,” Finance; this effort streamlined the process for reviewing business tax returns, enabling staff to conduct more audits and increase revenue by 160 percent over the previous year;
• “Managing Debt Service Expenditures During an Economic Downturn,” Finance; Henrico refinanced existing debt four times over a 15-month period, generating debt-service savings of more than $17.7 million at the height of the recession;
• “Get Connected, Stay Connected,” Human Resources; this program assessed the technology skills of all 4,000 general government employees to facilitate implementation of the automated Human Resources Management System;
• “The Henrico County Games,” Human Resources; part of an ongoing effort to promote wellness among county employees, this interdepartmental competition included a tug-of-war, two-mile run and mental skills challenge with 13 teams of employees participating;
• “Supporting Employee Resiliency During Turbulent Times,” Human Resources; this initiative offered employees classes and other resources to help manage stress stemming from the recession;
• “An Approach for Reducing Telecommunications Costs,” Information Technology; staff developed a web-browser based system that created a telecommunications database, enabling detailed analysis of costs and saving more than $1 million last year;
• "Innsbrook Area Study,” Planning; combining technology, public input and traditional land-use study methods, this project created a redevelopment plan for the Innsbrook Corporate Center to help it adapt to the recession and changing market conditions;
• “P.E.A.K. — Police, Educators and Kids,” Police; an educational and crime-prevention program for students grades K-5, this initiative also works to develop positive relationships between police officers and young people;
• “The 400th Anniversary Notable Henricoans Database,” Public Library; part of the county’s quadricentennial commemoration, this online resource provides information about 130 deceased residents who played a key role in Henrico history;
• “Tourist Information Center,” Recreation and Parks; the opening of this state-accredited facility — Henrico’s first — was timed to promote the county’s 400th anniversary activities as well as the variety of Henrico attractions;
• “Accessing Health Care and Enhancing Education,” Schools; designed to boost student attendance by increasing the availability of health care, the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security program provides a variety of health services for up to 3,500 students;
• “Big Nurse, Little Nurse,” Schools; this mentoring program connects first-year and more experienced students in the Henrico County-St. Mary’s Hospital School of Practical Nursing program to enhance learning opportunities;
• “Career Café,” Schools; this initiative provides high school and adult GED students access to extensive career information;
• “Certification of CTE Students: Ensuring a Competent Workforce,” Schools; the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department created Virginia’s first credential testing coordinator position to develop a testing process for its students;
• “Henrico 21: Training for Teaching in the 21st Century,” Schools; teachers submitted more than 600 lesson plans highlighting the use of technology in teaching and learning to an expert review panel; the top lessons were recognized and distributed online systemwide;
• “On the Sidelines with Sports Medicine,” Schools; students in sports medicine classes gained hands-on experience by working directly with coaches, athletic trainers and activity directors at their high schools;
• “Project Homeless Connect,” Schools; cosmetology students and teachers from Hermitage and Highland Springs technical centers provided more than 100 free haircuts for the area’s homeless residents at this annual support event;
• “Teachers for Tomorrow Annual Institute,” Schools; this one-day, countywide annual event introduces students in the honors-level Teachers for Tomorrow course to professional development and leadership-building activities;
• “Virginia Randolph Knights Give Back,” Schools; students learn about community service firsthand by participating in full-day field trips that support projects in the Henrico community;
• “Henrico DSS Title IV-E Quality Assurance Team,” Social Services; organized to provide oversight and quality-assurance review of federal and state funding of foster care programs for youth, this effort has significantly reduced Social Services’ exposure to financial risk.
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.
The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.
Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.
But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.
That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.
An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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