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.

This year, Henrico County is proud to note that it has been recognized by NACo with thirteen Achievement Awards and one Best in Category award.


List of Award Winners


1. Real Estate Advantage Program (REAP)

Beginning in 2001, the County of Henrico reengineered its real estate tax relief program to address the issue of underutilization by needy, eligible taxpayers. Because the program was administered by separate offices within Henrico County, the program’s cumbersome administration led to increased customer service problems. After studying the issues and identifying the causes, the Henrico County Finance Department redesigned and renamed the real estate tax relief program, implementing the Real Estate Advantage Program (REAP) to increase participation in the tax relief program and to simplify the process of providing real estate tax relief for both the taxpayer and County employees. By renaming the program, improving communication with the eligible population, redesigning applications and restructuring the processing system, the REAP program increased participation by ten percent and awarded seventeen percent more tax relief than the prior year while improving the efficiency of the relief program’s administration. Despite the added work of a mid-year change in eligibility criteria enacted by the Henrico County Board of Supervisors, the average processing time improved while productivity from non-REAP revenue-generating activities increased. Overall, REAP has been universally praised by its participants.

Agency: Department of Finance

Contact Us: Department of Finance

Return to Winners List


2. The Voice of the Administrative Professional

Valuing a learning culture, Henrico County wanted to ensure the training needs of all of employees were being met. Through a needs assessment and focus groups, the county was able to determine that its administrative professionals had received excellent training in the functional areas of their jobs. However, as the roles of administrative professionals expanded, the individuals in those positions felt they lacked the interpersonal skills needed to be successful. Henrico County adopted an initiative to meet the needs of administrative professionals and to let them know their voices had been heard. First, annual administrative conferences were developed to acknowledge the vital contributions made by administrative professionals and to allow for needed networking opportunities. Secondly, curricula were developed to address the three major needs of this group: 1) career growth within the administrative professional field, 2) using transferrable skills to change careers, and 3) being viewed as professionals by others in the organization. The success of this initiative has been phenomenal. The turnover rate for administrative professionals has decreased dramatically and many have experienced positive job changes. There is a sense of inspired professionalism in the workplace that has bridged the gap between administrative professionals and those on their teams.

Agency: Department of Human Resources

Contact Us: Department of Human Resources

Return to Winners List


 

3. Succession Management: An Individualized Learning Plan Approach

Henrico County implemented a Succession Management Initiative to address two concerns: 1) the loss of intellectual capital in key positions as upper managers become eligible to retire in record numbers, and 2) the decreasing number of younger adults in the work force available to develop the skills necessary to move into higher level positions. The program consisted of two phases. Phase One taught supervisors how to guide employees through a professional development process using individualized learning plans. Phase Two provided information to upper managers on strategies for developing subordinate managers for the purpose of planning for succession. In both phases, the Individualized Learning Plan form was offered as a practical developmental tool. It includes sections for identification of strengths, weaknesses, goals and strategies. Supervisors were taught how to guide developmental conversations with their employees. Upper managers were taught the five steps of an effective Succession Management Program: 1) identifying key positions for succession; 2) identifying competencies of key positions; 3) developing employees; 4) assessing results of development; and 5) evaluating the program. They were given tools for employee development that address the unique learning needs of upper managers.

Agency: Department of Human Resources

Contact Us: Department of Human Resources

Return to Winners List


 

4. “Webtraffic”: Active Content Traffic Condition Reports

The County of Henrico’s “Webtraffic” program makes up-to-the-minute traffic condition data available to the media and the public via the County’s Internet web site. The unique feature of this web page is its “active content” — updates are posted within seconds of the recording of a traffic related call in the County’s E911 Communications Center. Most importantly, this is accomplished by the application of a most interesting network design, called a “DMZ” which allows information from critical Intranet-based systems to be published on the Internet without exposing the host system to the Internet and its associated security issues.

Agency: Department of Human Resources

Contact Us: Department of Human Resources

Return to Winners List


5. Four Spokes on a Cooperative Wheel

The jurisdictions of Henrico, Goochland and Powhatan Counties established the James River Juvenile Detention Commission to fund, construct and operate a new juvenile detention center to serve the three jurisdictions. The strength of the newly formed commission was enhanced by cooperative agreements the commission brokered with the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice. The high-level of cooperation between the commission, the judges and the Commonwealth created the spokes of this wheel that drove the success of the James River Juvenile Detention Center. The result is a new 60 bed juvenile detention center located at Beaumont, Virginia in Powhatan County. Not only does the center serve Henrico, Powhatan and Goochland counties but also other jurisdictions that want to send some of their juveniles to benefit from the facility and the programs established there. The importance of the James River Juvenile Detention Commission and the cooperative wheel that it used is the built environment they created. This environment can only have an implicit positive impact on the staff, the juveniles and the successes that they both can achieve.

Agency: Henrico Public Library

Contact Us: Henrico Public Library

Return to Winners List


 

6. The Permit Center

The Permit Center was designed to enhance service to our customers at one central location. Departments represented in the center are Building Inspection, Planning, Public Utilities and Public Works. Technology was the driving force that made the center a success. With the introduction of a geographic information system (GIS) and Tidemark, these two software products provide a two-way connection. Tidemark is used to accept and approve building permits and GIS is used to view geographic location of the permits and retrieve data. The center has also consolidated all of its county maps into one central location at public map stations. This has greatly improved service by allowing our customers to view and print county maps. With the introduction of GIS, maps can now be viewed in real time and printed while they wait.

Agency: Planning Office

Contact Us: Planning Office

Return to Winners List


 

7. Henrico County Demographic Report

The Henrico County Demographic Report is a compilation of tabular and graphic demographic data produced by the Planning Office. It is a continually updated document used by the County’s staff, citizens, and elected and appointed officials. In addition to each division of the Planning Office, it is distributed to multiple departments throughout the County. The report includes maps to aid in visualization of the data. The report includes, but is not limited to, statistics on population, general housing, specific housing (i.e., adult, multi-family, etc.), commercial developments, and other useful information. Use of this information has aided staff and citizens in a myriad of ways, including staff presentations, business proposals, and location of projects. Beyond the hard copy of the book, all of the information is also available on the Planning Office’s web site. Use of the web site has granted access of this information to anyone who finds a need for it. As Henrico County continues to grow, the Demographic Report will keep evolving into a tool used to further the County’s prosperity.

Agency: Planning Office

Contact Us: Planning Office

Return to Winners List


 

8. Microwave Communication Path Protection Program

The Microwave Communication Path Protection Program utilizes a geographic information system (GIS) to quickly analyze the impact of a proposed development action on the County’s digital radio communication system. Obstruction of a signal path by a newly constructed building or tower could disrupt the emergency communications necessary for public safety. The GIS program quickly determines if a subject location on the ground lies beneath a microwave signal path. Next, the program calculates the ground elevation above sea level and the elevation of the bottom of the signal path to return the maximum structure height allowable before the path is penetrated. Other factors in the calculation of the path include the slope of the path between two radio towers and the varying path cross-section radius due to the conical nature of the propagated signal. The customized GIS project only requires the operator to enter the subject parcel identification number, and, if near a path, to click on a point along the path to determine the maximum allowable structure height. This tool provides for the quick analysis of rezoning applications and plans of development for potential structure height interference of the communications signal.

Agency: Planning Office

Contact Us: Planning Office

Return to Winners List


9. Sandston Commercial Area Study

Sandston is a small, unincorporated town within the larger, more suburban Henrico County. Williamsburg Road shrinks from four to two lanes within the community’s boundaries. Sandston has an established commercial area comprised of a mixture of office and service uses with residential intermixed. More pedestrian at its center, its western and eastern edges are automobile-oriented with many of the buildings surrounded by asphalt, unbroken by landscape plantings. This study is a community-based effort to examine the Williamsburg Road Corridor, bounded by Early Avenue to the west and Nine Mile / Beulah Road to the east. The result of the study is an outline of the conceptual plan for the commercial area of Sandston, with immediate (one to two years) and long-term actions (3 to 5 years) to assist the community in achieving stability and a cohesive appearance for years to come. Interest in Sandston is growing with a new bank constructed and new houses under construction. These changes, coupled with Henrico County’s new initiatives for older commercial areas, make this study timely. A community-led effort, coordinated by a County initiative and staff, will help lead to renewal of Sandston — a small town with a lively neighborhood commercial heart.

Agency: Planning Office

Contact Us: Planning Office

Return to Winners List


10. Senior Citizen Academy

The Senior Citizen Academy combines education about the role and function of the Police Division with training in crime prevention strategies designed specifically for the target audience. During the Senior Citizen Academy session, members of the community who are over 55 years of age meet weekly to learn about the inner workings of the Police Division, criminal investigations, traffic enforcement and recruit training. In addition, participants learn about crime prevention and personal safety strategies especially relevant to seniors such as telemarketing fraud and con situations, residential security, fire safety and personal protection. Upon graduation, alumni are provided with information about the wide variety of a law enforcement volunteer opportunities and encouraged to remain active partners with the agency.

Agency: Division of Police

Contact Us: Division of Police

Return to Winners List


11. Police Reading and Education Program

In a continuing effort to expand on its successful Community Policing Program, the Henrico County Division of Police initiated the Police Reading and Education Program (PREP). This unique program was developed to allow police recruits the opportunity to read and interact with students in kindergarten through the second grade at county elementary schools. The recruits are used to enhance and reinforce the importance of education to the students. It also allows the recruits to see and experience the cultural diversity of the community they are training to serve.

Agency: Division of Police

Contact Us: Division of Police

Return to Winners List


12. The Playmakers

The Henrico County Division of Recreation and Parks Therapeutic and Cultural Arts sections combined their efforts to create “The Playmakers,” a theater group for adults with disabilities. This performing arts program provides the opportunity for individuals with physical and mental disabilities to explore the arts through auditions, rehearsals and performances. The Playmakers program encourages participation in the arts, theatre, dance and music as participants work on physical, mental and emotional skills while learning choreography, staging, vocal projection and following direction. The Playmakers made their theatrical debut in April 2000. Its second performance was given in April 2001. These performances included a variety of theater, music and dance presentations on the main stage at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. Note: this entry also received a Best in Category award in the Parks and Recreation category.

Agency: Division of Recreation and Parks

Contact Us: Division of Recreation and Parks

Return to Winners List


13. Boundaries Website

Henrico County Public Schools receives an average of 55 calls per day from existing Henrico parents, parents from other areas of the state or other states, soon-to-be-parents, and/or realtors regarding school attendance boundaries. This requested information was provided in paper form only until January 2000, when the interactive boundaries website http://www.henrico.k12.va.us/Boundaries was developed. Since that time, current boundary information, recently proposed and approved boundary information, capital development plans, and general school information have been accessible to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in both graphic (map) and text formats easily downloadable from the Internet. Eighty percent of the daily requests for information are now referred to the boundaries website.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

Return to Winners List


14. Golden Age Program

A program that is extremely popular with senior residents in Henrico is the “Golden Age Program.” This program is available to all residents age 60 and over and provides many benefits to seniors through the school system. The Golden Age Program (GAP) closes the GAP by getting all people and our schools together.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

Return to Winners List


15. High Tech Academy

High Tech Academy is a collaborative effort between Henrico County Public Schools, Infineon Technologies Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University to educate and prepare secondary school juniors and seniors for future careers in high tech industries.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

Return to Winners List


16. Grandparent Support Group

The Grandparents Support Group operated by the Henrico Department of Social Services is addressing a critical need for citizens who have typically not been served by the child welfare community. The program provides instruction, support and assistance to grandparents who have taken on the additional family responsibility of raising their grandchildren. It is a primary prevention effort to stabilize and support families that otherwise would result in children entering the foster care system. Most importantly, the grandparents express a sense that they have been recognized for their efforts and report a lessening of the feeling of being all alone in their struggles. The Grandparent Support Group represents a clear case of identifying a critical need and addressing the need. It is customer service at its finest.

Agency: Department of Social Services

Contact Us: Department of Social Services

Return to Winners List


Visit the National Association of Counties’ Web site