Fairfax County Wins 12 Awards From the National Association of Counties

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

July 5, 2005


Fairfax County Wins 12 Awards
From the National Association of Counties

Fairfax County recently won 11 Achievement Awards and one Acts of Caring Award from the National Association of Counties. For the third consecutive year, the county has won Achievement Awards for its programs focused on children and youth, county administration and management, and environmental protection and energy.

During the past five years, the county has won Achievement Awards in 20 of the 21 categories that recognize innovative county programs, with distinctions for programs spanning the arts to volunteerism. Of the 18 Acts of Caring awards granted each year, the county has won an award every year since 2000.

The following Fairfax County agencies earned accolades for their creative programs: Department of Family Services; Department of Finance; Department of Housing and Community Development; Department of Management and Budget; Department of Planning and Zoning; Department of Public Works and Environmental Services; Department of Systems Management for Human Services; Department of Vehicle Services; Health Department; Office of the County Executive; Office of Emergency Management; Office for Equity Programs; and the office of the Providence District Supervisor.

Granted annually since 1970, the Achievement Awards honor innovative county government programs that modernize, streamline or expand services to residents. The Acts of Caring Awards recognize top county volunteer programs in the nation. The National Association of Counties represents the nation’s 3,066 counties, ensuring that counties’ concerns are represented in Washington, D.C. Below is a description of Fairfax County’s award-winning programs:

Chesapeake Bay Supplement: Comprehensive Plan
Department of Planning and Zoning
Category: Planning, Achievement Award
The county’s Chesapeake Bay Supplement is a policy document that guides the county in improving water quality. While the supplement, which was formally adopted last November, was developed in response to the state’s comprehensive planning requirements, Fairfax County used the document to further the Board of Supervisors’ 20-year environmental vision plan. Not only did this supplement go far beyond state requirements, but also the document provided a comprehensive overview of water quality conditions, trends and initiatives in the county. The supplement made 42 specific recommendations to address water pollution, infill development, redevelopment, shoreline erosion control and shoreline access. Notably, the geographic information systems technology was used to develop maps for the supplement, including maps showing shoreline erosion, accretion and access. The use of oblique aerial photographs for mapping shoreline conditions saved the county thousands of dollars compared to using traditional field surveys.

Children Helping Children
Office for Children, Department of Family Services
Category: Programs for Children and Youth, Acts of Caring
The county's School Age Child Care Program created "Children Helping Children" to help children partner with their communities and respond to the needs of other children. Community service projects range from clothing exchanges within individual centers to a countywide partnership with INOVA Hospital for Children. SACC children in 131 centers are active partners in the decision-making and planning of projects, such as collecting more than 3,000 books for sick children at INOVA, making "cuddle" pillows for children receiving emergency care, and collecting gallons of pop-top tabs to raise money for families who stay at INOVA's Ronald McDonald House while their children receive cancer treatment.

Demonstrating Innovation: A Stormwater Retrofit at the Providence Supervisor’s Office
Office of Providence District Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth
Category: Environmental Protection and Energy, Achievement Award
This innovative demonstration project at the Providence District Supervisor’s office filters and retains stormwater before it becomes runoff. The project uses an integrated system of stormwater management practices that are the first of its kind in the county. A portion of the office’s parking lot is being retrofitted with a rain garden and permeable pavers with an underlying gravel infiltration bed. And, a green roof already has been installed on a nearby storage building. Reducing the amount of polluted stormwater that reaches county watersheds is a priority for the Board of Supervisors. The project pushes forward the Board’s 20-year environmental vision plan, which encourages the use of rain gardens and green roofs.

Diversity Program: Many Faces of Fairfax
Office of Equity Programs
Category: Personnel Management, Employee Training, and Employee Benefits, Achievement Award
Last November, the Office of Equity Programs conducted the “Premiere Diversity Conference” for county employees, with 306 employees from 31 agencies attending. This day-long conference offered 17 different workshops to help employees serve the county’s diverse population. Organized around the theme “Many Faces of Fairfax,” topics included “Finding Your Voice: Communicating Across Cultures,” “Across the Divide: Tools for Effectively Interacting With Limited English Proficient Customers,” and “The Toolkit for Outreach to Minority Elders.”

Enhancing Emergency Management Through Partnerships, Facilities and Technology
Office of Emergency Management
Category: Emergency Management and Response, Achievement Award
To effectively respond to potential emergencies, the Office of Emergency Management created partnerships between public and private sector organizations, improved its emergency operations facilities and installed enhanced technology. The office, for example, created the Emergency Management Coordinating Committee that brings together county agencies, the Virginia Department of Transportation, local utilities, and the American Red Cross. Upgrading its facilities, the office built a new, state-of-the-art alternate emergency operations center in the county’s Government Center. This center offers enhanced communications, information and video technology, including a digital 800 MHz radio system, a computer-aided dispatch system for police and fire vehicles, and a live video feed from the center to all Cox and Comcast cable subscribers.

Health Access Assistance Team
Department of Family Services, Health Department, Office of Partnerships, Department of Systems Management
Category: Health, Achievement Award
The newly formed health assistance teams offer one-stop shopping for uninsured, low-income county residents seeking health care. The teams, which are located at each of the county’s three outpatient clinics for the uninsured, enroll eligible residents into federal, state or county health care programs. Bringing four county agencies together in partnership, the HAAT program allows county residents to receive health care more quickly and efficiently, and the program maximizes the county’s resources by matching residents with federal or state programs first. Previously, residents navigated the complex eligibility and documentation requirements for federal and state programs without this assistance, leaving some residents without the health care services for which they were eligible. The teams serve 750 residents per month, and 79 percent of these consumers are successfully enrolled in a federal, state or county health care program.

Employee Travel Policy and Outreach Program
Department of Finance
Category: County Administration and Management, Achievement Award
The Department of Finance led the charge to develop a new travel policy that incorporates the best practices of the federal and state governments. The new policy establishes uniform, equitable standards for travel authorization and reimbursement while providing maximum flexibility to county employees. Notably, the county has reduced costs through its new policy. Travel advances and reimbursements are now paid through electronic deposits into employees’ bank accounts, thereby eliminating the cost of processing checks. The county also adopted flat per diem rates for incidental and meal reimbursements, eliminating administrative costs for auditing and reimbursing these expenses.

Environmental Excellence Program: E-2 Certification
Department of Vehicle Services; Solid Waste Division, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services
Category: Environmental Protection and Energy, Achievement Award
Because of the environmental management plan developed by the Department of Vehicle Services and the Solid Waste Division of the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, these two departments won certification in the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program and membership in the Business for the Chesapeake Bay Program. The county received these two awards for the first time last year. Among the many positive accomplishments resulting from the management plan’s implementation, the county has achieved a recycling rate of 34 percent, exceeding the 25 percent mandated by the state. And, the county has cut air pollution by retrofitting its diesel school buses and purchasing hybrid vehicles.

Fairfax County’s Magnet Housing Pilot Program
Department of Housing and Community Development; Fire and Rescue Department
Category: Personnel Management, Employee Training, Employee Benefits, Achievement Award
This innovative pilot program aims to improve workforce housing for the county’s firefighters. Because of high housing costs, only 22 percent of the county’s firefighters live in Fairfax County. Therefore, the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Fire and Rescue Department established a partnership to address the problem. Their pilot program allows fire and rescue trainees and their families to rent affordable housing for up to two years during their training and probationary period of employment. The program provides 10 affordable rental units at the Courts of Westcott Ridge, and the program now allows police cadets to participate.

Improving Air Quality in the Washington Metropolitan Area: A Commitment to Air Quality Excellence
Office of the County Executive
Category: Environmental Protection and Energy, Achievement Award
Last year, the county adopted an air quality protection strategy, which is officially titled “Improving Air Quality in the Washington Metropolitan Region: Fairfax County’s Commitment to Air Quality Excellence.” This strategy offers a menu of recommended actions the county can take to improve air quality; since the strategy’s adoption, the Board of Supervisors has been implementing these recommendations in phases. To date, the Board has funded or implemented many actions, including funding the purchase of clean-fueled public transportation vehicles; buying low-emissions lawn and garden equipment; offering free Connector bus rides on Ozone Action days; and encouraging telework on Code Red days. The state and other local jurisdictions have embraced some of the recommendations outlined in the county’s strategy.

Institute for Early Learning and Emerging Literacy
Office for Children, Department of Family Services
Category: Children and Youth, Achievement Award
The institute, which was created by the Office for Children, trains child care providers to teach early literacy skills. The office partnered with the county’s public schools to design a curriculum that would teach children the skills they need to succeed at school. Child care providers can earn up to $750 for completing 36 hours of training, which includes a 16-hour “Foundations in Emergency Literacy” course. Since its inception, the institute has trained more then 3,300 child care providers.

Laurel Hill Public/Private Partnership
Department of Management and Budget
Category: Community and Economic Development, Achievement Award
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County School Board, and the county’s park and economic development authorities entered into a partnership with a private developer. This public-private partnership was formed to redevelop Laurel Hill, the former site for the District of Columbia’s Lorton prison complex. The partnership’s innovative financing structure allowed the county to build new facilities on an accelerated schedule without diverting funds from existing projects. As a result, a new high school was constructed three years ahead of schedule without using general obligation bonds to pay for the project. And, the Park Authority built a golf course at Laurel Hill 12 years earlier than anticipated in its master plan. Through the partnership, the county sold 46 acres at Laurel Hill to the developer for creation of senior living and graduated care facilities.

For more information about these award-winning programs, please contact the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935.

Fairfax County is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in all county programs, services and activities and will provide reasonable accommodations upon request. To request special accommodations, call 703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935. Please allow five working days in advance of events in order to make the necessary arrangements.

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