News Details

COUNTY WINS 8 NATIONAL ACHEIVEMENT AWARDS National Association of Counties Achievement Awards Program

(Woodbury, NJ) - Gloucester County Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney, and Freeholder Helene M. Reed, member of the Health Steering Committee of the National Association of Counties (NACO), announced today that Gloucester County is the recipient of eight NACO Achievement Awards.

The county's Medal Presentation for Infirmed Veterans, Seeds to Success Youth Farm Stand Project, Brownfields and Redevelopment Program, Pre-Employment Physical Capacity Screening Program, Electronic Library Branch Program, Homebound Dialysis Transportation Program, Public Education Outreach Program for Children and Resource Sharing Program were all awarded an Achievement Award from NACO.

"We are very proud that so many of our programs were selected for this Achievement Award, it is an honor to have them recognized nationally," said Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney. "As a county government, we are constantly working to increase the quality of life to our residents and to provide cost-efficient, innovative solutions to issues that affect our citizens," Sweeney said. "We don't do it to win awards, we do it because that is our role as public leaders, but it is nice to be recognized by an association of our peers for our innovation."

NACO awards were made in more that 20 categories and this year's winners represent 25 states and 93 counties in the United States.

Freeholder Helene Reed said, "These programs were chosen from the program categories for Civic Education and Public Information, Libraries, Children and Youth, Human Services, Community/Economic Development, and Personnel Management. There are literally hundreds of applications that NACO receives from throughout the nation and Gloucester County's applications stood out among the top to receive the Achievement Awards - we are very proud of the county's departments and staff who work hard at implementing these initiatives," said Reed. Jacqueline Byers, Director of Research for NACO, said, "This year's Achievement Awards demonstrate that counties are willing to tackle the tough problems to try to do more with less. I saw many examples of counties collaborating across jurisdictional lines to provide more efficient services and also saw counties reexamining and streamlining their existing systems and programs. Counties are also taking on problems that no one else is addressing and finding realistic solutions. I am proud to call this year's winners model county programs."

Below is an explanation of the winning programs.

Veterans Affairs

Medal Presentation for Infirmed Veterans This program assures that any veteran who is infirmed and unable to attend the county's official Medal ceremony is able to receive their Gloucester County Military Service Medal. A Freeholder accompanies a Commissioned Officer to present a medal to an infirmed veteran in a home, nursing home or hospital.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Seeds To Success Youth Farm Stand Project This entrepreneurial and life skills training program takes at-risk youth and prepares them for the workforce through classroom education and on-the-job training. The purpose of the project is to teach special needs youth in the county how to select and prepare agricultural products for use in meal preparation and to provide them opportunities to acquire workforce readiness skills in selling these products at a youth-run farm stand during the summer months. The program is entering its 3rd year and expanding to three locations this year.

Economic Development

Brownfields and Redevelopment Program This program empowers local municipalities within the county to revitalize difficult properties by providing redevelopment strategies and tools for the purpose of building healthy and sustainable communities. In partnership with the Gloucester County Improvement Authority, the Department of Economic Development undertook a county-wide study of Brownfields sites, where over 300 were placed on a database. A team of a redevelopment attorney and planner are helping municipalities create and prioritize redevelopment designations by creating plans and providing tools necessary for them to market and revitalize the properties. Since the programs' inception in 2001, 19 redevelopment plans have been approved and numerous jobs and ratables have added to the county's municipalities.

Personnel Department

Pre-Employment Physical Capacity Screening Program In 2003 the county's Personnel Department instituted a screening program for specific departments that enables prospective employees to simulate job functions prior to their assignment of job duties. The testing is performed by licensed physical therapists. The purpose of this simulation is to ensure that the prospective employee is physically capable of performing the required duties. This program was initiated as part of a new workers compensation plan. The goal was integrating hiring procedures to get the best person in each position and by doing so, to reduce workers compensation costs in the long-run. Since this program's inception there have not been any worker related injuries to employees screened through this combined process of health questionnaire completion and physical examination.

Gloucester County Library

Electronic Library Branch Program Utilizing the library's automation infrastructure, the GCLS developed a library web page that allows patrons with library cards to access the library's online catalog, subscription databases, virtual reference books, and statewide resources 24 -7 from their homes, schools or offices. Patrons can download full-text articles from newspapers, magazines and reference books, "check out" electronic books and download them on their PDA, place holds on new actual books, request loans from other from other libraries, ask an actual reference librarian a question in real time on their computer and much more.

Division of Transportation Services

Homebound Dialysis Transportation Program With the establishment of this program dialysis patients who are in extremely poor health continue to receive proper transportation services to their dialysis treatments while remaining in their homes. Through an annual appropriation from the County Board of Freeholders, the Division of Transportation Services acquired a cost-favorable contractual agreement with a private ambulance company that transports the dialysis patients 3 days per week for treatment. This service results in an average savings of $5000 per dialysis patient. This program allows the Division of Transportation to deliver services to their clients without disruption or decrease of service.

Department of Emergency Response

Public Education Outreach Program for Children (PEOP) PEOP educates school aged children in the importance of understanding when, why, and how to dial 911 for police, fire and ambulance in the event an adult is not present during an emergency. PEOP utilizes videos with a cast of characters who are school aged children, a virtual visit to Telephone University, a 911 quiz show and other fun educational tools to teach younger children the importance of utilizing 911 correctly. Older students utilize role playing and 911 simulators to to place a call in a controlled environment to see first hand how the system works. Over 10,000 students participated in this program during the 2004-2005 school year. The Department of Emergency Response has also seen a reduction in the amount of false 911 calls.

Office of Disability Services

Resource Sharing Program This new seminar program was presented to municipalities to educate them on a variety of services available such as housing, food, transportation, employment and other relevant issues to citizens with disabilities. Many county agencies participated in the program to present information on their services to give municipalities the tools to handle their constituent concerns on the spot. As a result of this program, municipalities learned about services for their residents with and without disabilities and shared information on their own resources that expanded the knowledge for all participants that enables them to execute timely and effective service delivery to all citizens.