This year, Chesterfield County received 10 achievement awards from the National Association of Counties. NACo's membership includes more than 2,000 counties nationwide, representing more than 80 percent of the nation's population. The association has been granting yearly, noncompetitive achievement awards since 1970 for innovative programs provided by counties to their residents.
Adolescent Reporting Program - Adolescent Reporting Program
Chesterfield County has started an innovative program to assist youth members with their transition out of juvenile services and into adulthood. The Chesterfield County Adolescent Reporting Program, CARP, is a cooperative effort between the 12th District Juvenile Court and Court Service Unit, with assistance from the Chesterfield Department of Mental Health Support Services, Chesterfield County Public Schools, the Chesterfield Health Department and Chesterfield Juvenile Services. The program is a sanction for youths aged 14-17 who are on probation in Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights. The day program targets probationers who are long-term suspended or expelled from school, while the evening program targets youths who are in school but have violated their probation. Each participant receives educational assistance, mental health services, health information, social-skills training, life-skills education and service-learning opportunities. The goal is to teach youths the skills they need to get off probation and complete high school.
Emerging Senior Leader Program - Center of Organizational Excellence
In order to retain a competent workforce, employers are constantly identifying strong employees and focusing on their abilities. A component of Chesterfield County’s Talent Management initiative is the development of leaders for future positions. Creating learning opportunities geared toward mid- to upper-level leaders is a critical element in maximizing the county's talent-management efforts. Using focus-group responses of previously assessed leaders, content areas were identified and approved by county leadership that include strategic thinking, budgeting tied to strategic planning, emotional and social intelligence, succeeding in a political environment, developing workforce talent, conveying information and organizational messages effectively and understanding local government operations. These were the areas identified to best prepare leaders for future success and, because of this program, two of the 18 participants were promoted during the first year.
Diversity Management — A New Approach - Human Resource Management
Chesterfield County launched its "Diversity Management — A New Approach" campaign to progress toward its goal of attracting and retaining a diverse work force. Since 2009, the county has changed its diversity direction and charted a new course that is employee focused, employee owned and employee administered. This was a natural progression, since many years were previously spent educating employees concerning diversity. To initiate this new approach, the county conducted a cultural-competency survey of all departments. As a result, the committee produced a number of Web-based diversity programs, enabling more employees to receive training and exposure to diversity. In 2010, the committee created a monthly series, “What My Heritage Means to Me,” featuring articles written by individual employees about their ethnic heritages. Foundational diversity training remains a major function of the diversity initiative and program. As a direct result of these diversity initiatives, the county has made significant progress toward achieving its goal of increasing diversity in the workplace in all areas. The county also continues to maintain a low turnover rate for minority employees and has increased employee satisfaction for minorities in the workplace, as evidenced by biennial Organizational Climate Assessment statistics.
Modernizing Leave Plans — Paid Time Off - Human Resource Management
As employers look for ways to remain competitive in challenging labor markets, the best performing organizations are continually evaluating their compensation and benefit programs to ensure that they can continue to attract new talent. Chesterfield County has taken a proactive approach by implementing a comprehensive program that combines both paid time off and an integrated short-term disability plan for additional income protection. To accomplish this, the county assembled a team of experienced human resources and payroll professionals to design and implement a new leave plan. Paid time off, or PTO, was designed as a single category of leave to be used in lieu of traditional annual leave, sick leave and floating holidays. When properly scheduled, PTO can be used for vacations, personal or family business, illness, family illness, doctor’s appointments, or any other reason. Employees needing fewer days of sick leave are now able to take additional time off for other purposes such as trips or family time. Interest from employees was very high, and the resulting program has increased job satisfaction, simplified leave administration and positioned the county to attract the best and brightest talent of the next generation. New employees are hired into the plan, and after the first five months, a total of 22 percent of all employees were enrolled. Total leave used for sick, vacation, floating holidays and PTO is projected to shrink from $20.3 million annually to $19.5 million. Additional productivity is expected as more employees transition from traditional leave plans to PTO.
CitizenGIS - Information Systems Technology, GIS
CitizenGIS is a Web-based application that integrates two of Chesterfield County government’s largest software applications, the geographic information system, or GIS, and the computer assisted land information appraisal system, or CALIAS, to produce a tool for researching the county’s land base. Currently, 21 different informational layers can be turned on or off within the application. Another six informational layers are shown on the cached base map and appear at different zoom levels. CitizenGIS provides various search methods for locating property, including offering a graphic view complete with aerial photography and the option to get additional information. Other tools access the online real estate page, providing detailed information about property ownership, sales and assessment, including a link to the subdivision plat, a list of the school district, voting precinct and district information, another nine layers of information. Since the release in May 2010, website analytics for CitizenGIS show that there have been site visits from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 76 foreign countries. In fiscal 2011, the site received an average of 151 hits a day, and the site is receiving an average of 173 hits a day in this fiscal year. Citizens and members of the development community are able to find the information they need any time of the day or night, and save the cost of printing maps.
Civil War Earthworks Preservation - Information Systems Technology, GIS
Chesterfield County used GIS technology to record and preserve historic Civil War earthworks. This project gives the Planning and Environmental Engineering departments an opportunity to view historic resource data for property that is being proposed for commercial development. For example, in 1984, the county planned to build a water tower, but Civil War preservationists opposed the construction due to the historic location. The county agreed to relocate the tower. With the current GIS system database, all historic Civil War earthworks are recorded and available for review. With this information available before beginning a development process, strategic steps can be taken to preserve as much of the earthworks as possible during construction. Information in the GIS database is used during the initial rezoning request phase, initial tentative subdivision submission and initial site plan submission. The Civil War Earthworks preservation project has saved more than 40 acres of land containing historic and cultural resources from development.
Enhancing Customer Knowledge of E-Readers and Digital Collections - Library, Community Services
EReaders are steadily increasing in popularity since currently almost a third of adults in the U.S. own an e-Reader or tablet computer. As more and more people use e-books, they also are realizing that accessing e-books and e-readers might be more expensive than they thought. In response, the Chesterfield County Public Library has launched an e-reader knowledge campaign. The library’s e-book and audio book lending service, the Downloadable Digital Library, makes free e-books available to customers. Library staff have developed workshops, handouts and other creative vehicles for helping e-book customers learn to use their devices and the library’s lending system. Librarians are teaching customers how to take full advantage of their devices, thereby offering the economical reading material and 24/7 access. The results have indicated that there is a high demand for public-access e-book networks and that the number of customers has increased.
iHunt: Crack the CCPL Code - Library, Community Services
In an effort to bring in more traffic, many libraries have started programs that appeal to teens and young adults. “iHunt: Crack the CCPL Code” was an innovative program piloted by Chesterfield County Public Library. This program fills the gaps in our service to teens by providing information regarding library resources and services to preteens and young adults through fun, interactive methods using technology relevant to this group. Participants used smartphones or iPods to participate in this interactive scavenger hunt using QR codes at three branch libraries. IPods were made available for checkout at the participating branches for individuals that did not own a smartphone or iPod. The iHunt program was promoted at all nine branch libraries and the scavenger hunts were hosted at three key branches chosen because of their proximity to the targeted audiences. With 54 participants, the iHunt project was a successful pilot program, which has opened the door for future programs of this type.
The Ready to Build Expedited Plan Review Process - Planning Department
In Chesterfield County, the Ready to Build Expedited Plan Review Process was generated in 2009 from a concern that many employees in the construction industry and related suppliers were losing jobs with the economic downturn. The Ready to Build Expedited Plan Review Process is offered to all developers of nonresidential and multifamily development. It is not currently offered for single-family residential development, although it is available for mixed-use development that includes single-family residential buildings. The objectives of the Ready to Build Expedited Plan Review Process are: (1) protect jobs by getting projects under construction as fast as possible; (2) give priority to those developers who have obtained financing and have committed their team to high-speed submission of plans. The process begins with a preliminary meeting between the developer’s team and the county and state review team. During that meeting, the development proposal is discussed and the construction schedule is determined depending on the financing established for the project. If the developer needs the Ready to Build Expedited Plan Review Process, the consultant team prepares a calendar schedule for an initial submittal and up to three resubmittals with county and state reviews. The calendar will end with the construction start date desired by the developer. The time frame for each review can be as short as three business days. However, the developer’s team that prepares plans has no more than double the number of days to resubmit plans for the next review. For example, if the review team takes three days, the consultants have six days to resubmit plans. It should be noted that projects not given an expedited schedule follow the county’s standard review timeframe of 21 days per review, and consultants have no time constraints for resubmission.
Safety Audit Program - Risk Management
Every year, counties find themselves paying out millions in losses from collisions, employee injuries, property losses and liability claims among others. During the past five years, the incurred cost of all claims for Chesterfield County Government and Schools average $7.6 million. Risk Management identified the need to significantly revise its safety-audit program to strengthen the protocols used, tracking findings and follow-up. The county introduced its Safety Audit Program to prevent losses at more than 300 facilities. The program established a strict protocol regarding the auditing process that enabled the county to prioritize facilities and receive valuable feedback from the auditor. To strengthen this process, the Safety Audit Program enforces that follow-up audits be scheduled on a case-by-case basis. All information from each audit is systematically entered into CS STARS, a software system that identifies strong points, weak points, priorities and trends. As a result of the protocol implementation, Risk Management now has a 100 percent audit completion rate, and since implementation, the overall trend for regulatory and internal policy compliance has improved.
Capping a Community Problem: Partnerships for Preventing Refrigerant Huffing - Youth Planning and Development and SAFE
Many teenagers are abusing household substances as mind-altering drugs. Huffing refrigerant from A/C units has led to tragic deaths among teenagers. Chesterfield County and SAFE Inc., a local nonprofit coalition, developed an innovative partnership with companies from the HVAC sector to reduce access to refrigerant by installing locking caps on A/C unit valves. The initiative was built on a change to the Virginia Building Code that mandates locking caps on all new installations to prevent unauthorized access beginning March 1, 2011. The initiative focuses on retrofitting existing units with locking caps and has proved to be a great success for the county.