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.
On June 13, the Short Pump Rotary Club partnered with Schnabel Engineering for a day of volunteer work with Rebuilding Together Richmond. Team members (among them [from left] Chris Rufe, Melissa Abraham, Rick Naschold, and Micky Ogburn) completed a variety of repairs and home improvements ranging from painting and landscaping to cabinet installation and fence building.
“It was a privilege to be involved in this project," said club president Melissa Abraham. "The homeowner kept thanking the volunteers, but I think all of us would agree we are the ones who actually benefited. It was an opportunity to help a community member, fellowship with great people and improve our handyman skills." > Read more.
Dr. Even Alexander, a New York Times best-selling author who has been featured on Oprah and Dr. Oz, was in town last week to promote his June 27 talk, "Proof of Heaven," at Glen Allen High School.
Alexander (pictured, at right, while Unity of Bon Air church member Harry Simmons interviews him) has written about what he considers to be his journey through the afterlife.
Tickets to this month's event are $25 and will support the new Bon Secours Hospice House being built later this year. > Read more.
Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ is a magnificent, emotional ride
Explaining the nuts and bolts of Pixar’s new, exciting, innovative Inside Out – really digging into the film’s shape-and-color explanation of the human mind – would take up the entirety of this review. And probably three or four more (if movies had instruction manuals, Inside Out’s would be the size and general poundage of a cinder block).
It’s a complicated movie. So here’s the gist, in as simply-put terms can be. > Read more.
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