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 Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.
The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)
The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.
For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.
The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.
The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.
Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.
Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise
Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.
They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.
As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.
Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.
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