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.


List of Award Winners


1. Partnership to Learn: A Creative Approach to Quality Training

Two Virginia localities have overcome the sometimes impossible odds of “turfism” and “pride” to work together to enhance learning for their respective employees. With little funding and staff available for employee training, combined with increasing costs of vendor and instructor fees, Spotsylvania County, Virginia was challenged with being able to offer its employees quality training to meet their needs in a cost effective manner. The County decided to investigate the training offered by other localities to see if a partnership could be formed. Henrico County, Virginia was identified. Together, the two counties developed a partnership allowing Spotsylvania employees to participate in courses offered by Henrico for a nominal fee. Henrico’s Human Resources Department became revenue-producing while Spotsylvania employees received quality training tailored to a local government setting.

Agency: Department of Human Resources

Contact Us: Human Resources

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2. Moving Forward with Technology

Henrico County realized the importance of providing quality technology training programs to reinforce employees’ learning while focusing on application of skills. Identifying employees’ technical training needs and providing training in a time and manner in which it could be accessed by the greatest number of employees became the first step in developing a technology training initiative. Implementation strategies included an assessment of need, targeted surveys to employees, restructuring of the annual training catalog, implementation of a fourteen-station computer lab for hands-on training and marketing of the HR Resource Library, equipped with computer stations, self-paced tutorials and nearly 1,000 comprehensive reference manuals. The results have been outstanding, in part because the program has been customized to meet an individual’s unique technology training needs.

Agency: Department of Human Resources

Contact Us: Human Resources

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3. GREITCC: Greater Richmond Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition

The Greater Richmond Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition was formed in October 2002 as a result of the efforts of the Richmond Virginia Branch of the NAACP in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service to create a community based partnership to address economic issues that negatively impact the community due to unclaimed tax credits. Henrico County participates as a community partner with Chesterfield County, Hanover County and the City of Richmond, along with 25 other local businesses, civic and community based organizations. The Coalition assists working families by offering free tax preparation services that ensure the proper receipt of EITC and other federal and state tax credits. This service helps preserve the value of the EITC by reducing the dollars lost to tax preparation fees, refund anticipation loan fees and check cashing fees. The partnership emphasizes coordination between existing services, leveraging of community resources and community collaboration in reaching out to working families to improve their ability to build assets and gain an economic foothold in the community.

Agency:Department of Social Services

Contact Us: Social Services

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4. Fatherhood Initiative

The Fatherhood Initiative is a focused effort of the Henrico Department of Social Services to highlight the critical role of fathers and to raise the awareness of the community to reach the men. It includes four components. The first is a support group for foster and adoptive fathers. The second is a twelve-week men’s training group for fathers referred through the Juvenile Court and Child Protective Services. The third is a parenting and men’s support group offered at the Henrico County Jail for inmates who are within 90 days of being released. And the fourth is an annual conference for community and faith-based groups serving fathers as well as for dads themselves.

Agency:Department of Social Services

Contact Us: Social Services

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5. Strike-Out Substance Abuse, Strike-Out the Violence

The Strike-Out Substance Abuse, Strike-Out the Violence (SOSA) program is a joint venture between the Henrico County Division of Police, Division of Recreation and Parks, the George “Good Kid” Susce Foundation and many community partners. The Foundation’s mission statement is to strive to provide parents and children the skills to combat the issues facing our youth today – substance abuse, home / gun safety, anger management and conflict resolution – through a fun, instructional athletic clinic hosted by respected, well-known athletes and coaches. SOSA is a series of sports clinics presented by current professional college and high school coaches and players, as well as retired major and minor league professional baseball players. Professionals from police, mental health and education instruct a life skills portion (chalk talks) of the clinic. The program is designed for each youth to have an adult buddy to experience the clinic with them. In doing so, the process allows for a positive interaction between the adult and youth while they learn about both sports and how to avoid violence, guns, bullying and substance abuse. At the conclusion of the clinics, each parent / child receives and is asked to sign the “Good Kid” Susce Firearm Safety Parental Pledge, Sportsman and Citizenship Pledge and the Grayson Owen Firearm Pledge. Parents and other adults are provided a gunlock and the children are given safety publications, a goody bag of items carrying safety messages and flashing bicycle safety lights.

Agency: Division of Police and Division of Recreation & Parks

Contact Us: Division of Police and Recreation & Parks

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6. Wireless iBook Connectivity: A Public Library and School Partnership

Wireless computer connectivity enables public school students and teachers to use any of their 25,000 laptop computers while visiting their public library. Available at nine Henrico Public Library locations, this service conveniently expands computing opportunities for Henrico’s growing community of learners. Using School issued laptops, teachers from every grade, middle school students and high school students can complete independent as well as collaborative school projects at their local library. Students may then submit homework to their teachers electronically. Conveniently, this may occur during evenings, Saturdays and during school breaks. By wirelessly connecting to the Internet, their school’s server and the public library resources, researchers can access both the school’s and the library’s catalog, a vast array of online databases, as well as essential information such as homework assignments and library account information. In addition to wireless web access, users have personal access to knowledgeable librarians and an extensive variety of materials available for check out – all within a comfortable, nearby location – the “neighborhood library.”

Agency: Henrico Public Library

Contact Us: Henrico Public Library

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7. iBooks Rescue Lost Voters

The Election Page Program in Henrico County is an innovative new initiative which involves 16 to 18 year old students in the election process. Using technology to enhance the human element, these students are able to make voting a much less threatening experience. Students assist voters who are at the wrong polling place, those who have lost their registration cards and those who might be intimidated for whatever reason. Students who participate must have parental consent, must attend a two-hour training session and must take an oath to be a qualified Election Page. Each student works under the direction of the chief election officer at the precinct and receives community service credit toward a seal on their diploma. The key to the success of the Election Page program is the marriage of human skills and computer technology. Each high and middle school student in Henrico County is issued an iBook laptop computer for his/her exclusive use during the school year. The Pages’ own iBooks are linked to a County web site containing voter information so they may provide this information to voters. The program is also a mutually beneficial relationship between the school system and the governmental unit directing the election — the General Registrar’s Office. Students gain invaluable, firsthand experience in our democratic process, and the Registrar’s Office has the assistance of highly qualified, highly trained and highly enthusiastic students who will carry their accomplishments back to their own social studies classes.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

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8. Leadership Development Partnership

The Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) entered into a partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) that was designed to increase the pool of candidates capable of assuming leadership roles in a school district immersed in the integration of educational technology. The need to increase the leadership pools is based on a substantial number of current leaders approaching retirement and an annual increase of approximately 1,000 students. The focus of the Leadership Development Partnership was to provide courses relevant to a school district at the forefront of technology integration at a cost-effective price for all participants. Three programs of study leading to graduate degrees were designed that prepare Henrico employees to assume leadership roles. Henrico employees now have access to a cost-effective, convenient and contemporary program of study. Fifty-seven employees are currently enrolled with a fourth cohort of twenty members beginning in summer 2004. VCU benefits by having additional students enrolled in its School of Education and by being linked directly to a school district. HCPS enjoys the benefits of additional candidates for critical vacancies. The program also provides veteran leaders with new professional development opportunities.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

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9. Outreach Program for Non-English Speaking Parents

Henrico County Public Schools Outreach Program for Non-English Speaking Parents is a new program initiated to provide parents who do not speak English an opportunity to have a better understanding of the programs, policies and resources in the school division. With the LEP (Limited English Proficient) student population over 1,600 in the school system, Henrico County Public Schools began seeking ways to improve communication with parents of non-English speaking students and to increase their involvement in their children’s education. Research clearly shows that students whose parents are involved in education are more successful. Eight schools with high LEP populations were provided funds through a grant that would allow them to offer a series of three parent workshops on topics specific to the needs of the student populations at those schools. Each school assembled a group of educators including but not limited to the school principal, guidance counselors and English as a Second Language teachers to prepare programs on relevant, key issues. Additionally, funds were provided for two interpreters to attend the meetings as language resources for parents. Much of the communication for the meetings was translated into two languages, Spanish and Bosnian/Serbo-Croatian. The program has surpassed expectations by eliminating barriers for parents who do not speak English.

Agency: Henrico County Public Schools

Contact Us: Henrico County Schools

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10. “Rigsby”

Henrico County’s Department of Public Utilities / Keep Henrico Beautiful Program Executive Coordinator, along with members of the Keep Henrico Beautiful Committee and several County staff collaborated with a local author and illustrator, Jenny H. Bingham, to create, purchase materials and implement a multimedia environmental education kit to raise public awareness of the impact litter has on living things, especially wildlife residing in County parks. The multifaceted, literature-based kit includes a vibrant picture book, a puppet show, activity book, bookmark, sticker and animated audio CD. The message and educational materials meet the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) and are geared to elementary school-aged children in Kindergarten through Grade 3. It is applicable for small or large audiences. In addition, local Scout and 4-H programs, recreation and parks programs and library story times find these materials easy to implement and very cost-effective. Since being implemented in October 2003, over 4,500 participants have benefited from the Rigsby educational materials. This highly visible wealth of multimedia public awareness and educational tools has earned Henrico County statewide recognition as a front-runner in promoting the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s anti-litter campaign.

Agency: Keep Henrico Beautiful, Department of Public Utilities

Contact Us: Keep Henrico Beautiful, Department of Public Utilities

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11. Technology Replacement Fund

During the FY 2000-01 budget process, the Technology Replacement Fund was established as an Internal Service Fund for Henrico County. This fund provides for the replacement of general government computers and related technology equipment and minimizes large, one-time cost increases for technology purposes. Individual departments will, on an annual basis, transfer funds equaling one-third of the price of the equipment from their operating budgets to the Technology Replacement Fund for future replacement of computer and related technology equipment included in the program. As the price of new technology decreases and these payments remain constant, the fund is able to develop into a perpetually self-supporting service fund. Therefore, the Technology Replacement Program can fund the replacement of technology equipment at no additional cost to the County. As of July 2003, sixteen general government departments participate in the fund. Within these departments, 1,641 computers and 173 other pieces of technology equipment are included in the program at an accumulated value of $5,716,143.

Agency: Office of Management and Budget, Department of Finance

Contact Us: Office of Management and Budget, Department of Finance

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12. Small Area Land Use Study Area

Henrico County is a fast-growing suburban locality just outside of Richmond, Virginia. The last County-wide Comprehensive Land Use Plan Update was completed in December 1995. Since that time, rapid development has continued and several high-pressure growth areas have emerged. Because of this, Henrico has performed a series of small area land use studies and periodic updates to its Land Use Plan. The time and resources needed for a County-wide update have not been available. However, the small area studies and periodic updates have been a way to address the changing conditions within Henrico. Because of the significant number of studies undertaken, a Henrico “Study Model” has emerged outlining a program that can be completed in only a few months as opposed to previous study programs of one year or more. Henrico has completed two recent small area studies following this Study Model – the Nuckols Road / I-295 Interchange Small Area Land Use Study and the Scott Road Small Area Land Use Study. The Study Model has created a dialogue between developers and residents that did not previously exist. The resulting plans have assisted the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission in their decisions concerning outstanding rezoning and development applications. The recommended plans have also helped achieve consensus between developers, residents and County officials regarding the future development of high-growth areas of Henrico. Most importantly, the Study Model has created a framework to quickly establish viable long-range land use plans in rapidly developing areas.

Agency: Planning Department

Contact Us: Planning Department

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13. Sales and Use Tax Reform

Beginning in early 2001, Henrico County initiated a reform process devoted to administering the local sales and use tax. It was well known at this time that, due to various factors, the local portion of the Virginia sales and use tax was frequently allocated to an incorrect locality. The potential loss of revenue from these errors was deemed to be significant as a considerable number of businesses licensed to do business in the County are required to file sales tax returns. Furthermore, those businesses are generating a sizable amount of gross receipts or would be completing transactions resulting in use tax. Thus it was apparent that the sales and use tax dealers were confused as to the names and boundaries of localities within the State and were therefore filing incorrect or incomplete returns. The Virginia Department of Taxation is charged with administering this tax, but has little incentive for making thorough examinations of local tax issues. Prior to the inception of the reform, Henrico’s procedures for administering the local sales and use tax consisted of reviewing reports of new sales tax dealers registered with the Virginia Department of Taxation and reviewing sales and use tax registration and gross sales information as part of an assigned business license / business personal property audit. These functions were handled by a number of different employees. As part of the reform initiative, all functions related to sales and use tax were consolidated into one position. That staff member now performs regular reviews of dealers to compare gross sales reported on the sales tax returns to gross receipts reported on the business license, researches exception reports that identify dealers appearing to be registered to an incorrect locality, produces monthly variance reports for the largest dealers in the County, monitors monthly tax allocations to Henrico and surrounding localities and researches and resolves discrepancies identified by the audit staff. The new programs have resulted in a significant recovery of revenue, streamlining of tax administration and audit procedures, simplification of taxpayer requirements and increased cooperation among the staff in the local office as well as with the Virginia Department of Taxation.

Agency: Revenue Division, Department of Finance

Contact Us: Revenue Division, Department of Finance

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