Ellicott City, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced that Howard County received a record breaking 27 National Association of Counties (NACo) Awards. This is the highest number of NACo awards Howard County has received in one year. The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents. Howard County received seven Achievement Awards from NACo in 2019 and four Achievement Awards in 2020.
Howard County is at the forefront of innovative and effective government solutions, and these awards are a testament to the incredibly hard working employees dedicated to our community. NACo represents 3,069 county governments across the nation, and Howard County continues to stand out on good governance and creative problem solving. Especially amid a pandemic, the challenges we’ve faced over the past year encouraged our workforce to think creatively and look forward to modernizing our services and continue to make Howard County the best place to live, work, grow, and play. I’m beyond grateful to our County employees who work so hard to make Howard County the best place for all.
The Department of Planning and Zoning received a “Best in Category” in Planning for The Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan.
NACo announced the following achievement awards for Howard County:
- Office of Community Sustainability received three awards for its Commercial Stormwater Solutions Watershed Partnership Program, Lisbon Food and Fun program, and HoCo Harvest for the Hungry program.
- The Department of Fire and Rescue Services received an award for its Mobile Integrated Community Health team, which supported mobile vaccinations.
- The Office of Emergency Management was recognized for its response to Integrating Community Organizations to Aid in Disaster Response and Recovery.
- The Office of Human Rights and Equity was recognized for its Humanity Matters Dialogue Series.
- The Department of Licenses and Permits received an award for its Outdoor Restaurant Seating Certificate Program.
- The Office of Purchasing was recognized for Building Supplier Relationships in Difficult Times.
- The Health Department received two awards for its “It’s Ok to Ask” program on youth suicide prevention and Project Lazarus: A Public Health Model to Address the Opioid Crisis.
- The Department of Public Works received three awards for:
- Installation of MERV13 Filters;
- Community and Economic Development of Long Reach Village Center; and the
- Water Meter Replacement Program.
- The Public Information Office received an award for the StayCOVIDSafe Community Campaign.
- The Department of Housing and Community Development was recognized for its program Overcoming Credit Challenges On the Road to Homeownership.
- The Office of Transportation received an achievement award for its Community Engagement Plan for Transportation Projects.
- The Department of Recreation and Parks received four awards for:
- Robinson Nature Center Take-Home Programs;
- RecZone Child Care Program;
- Scout Archaeology Program; and
- Community Center Family Fun Kits.
- The Department of Corrections was recognized for its Relaxology Day program.
- The Department of Community Resources and Services was recognized for its HoCo Scholars Program and Howard County Address Food Insecurity program.
- The Economic Development Authority received an award for the HoCo RISE Business Assistance Grant Program.
- The Department of Technology and Communication Services was recognized for its GIS Maps for Community Resources During COVID and Keeping Employees Safe by Supporting Remote Work.
Howard County received awards in 13 out of 18 different categories. The categories include children and youth, county resiliency, community and economic development, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.
Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.
“The pandemic posed unique challenges and every office in County Administration came up with innovative programs to educate our residents to keep them safe, continue outreach and provide critical support for our businesses, and conduct important virtual community conversations,” said Lonnie R. Robbins, Chief Administrative Officer for Howard County. “We faced COVID together and are emerging as a stronger, more compassionate and caring community.”
“The Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan’s award of ‘best in category’ for planning is a testament to the dedicated and resilient residents and business owners in Ellicott City,” said Department of Planning and Zoning Director Amy Gowan. “They provided countless hours over multiple years collaborating with staff and experts. The master plan’s vision for rebuilding while enhancing the town – and achieving multiple objectives – is a direct result of their contributions. The Department of Planning and Zoning is humbled to have received this recognition.”
"The four NACo Achievement awards we just received speak to the ingenuity and dedication of our department and staff members” said Recreation & Parks Director A. Raul Delerme. “From our RecZone childcare initiative designed with working parents in mind to family fun to educational programs that emphasize history, nature, and more, each of these awards highlight the unique ways Howard County Recreation & Parks works to enrich and support our local community.”
“All of these initiatives have provided important services to our community and had a positive impact," said Department of Public Works Director Thomas Meunier. "The coordinated system wide replacement of 72,000 residential water meters has been a major undertaking of Howard County DPW Bureau of Utilities. Extensive planning and coordination has been required to ensure a successful and timely outcome, minimize impact to our customers during the pandemic, and provide efficient, reliable, and accurate meter reading. The revitalized Long Reach Village Center will serve as a strong community center with new shops, restaurants, and services. Additionally, it gives opportunities to small businesses to flourish. Finally, the upgrading of the HVAC filters to MERV13 was central to lowering the likelihood of COVID 19 exposure throughout the County buildings as well as calming employee concerns”.
“The Outdoor Restaurant Seating Certificate program was critically needed to keep some of our most vulnerable businesses open, and the inter-departmental cooperation that came together to make it operational as quickly as it did was inspiring,” said Director of the Department of Licenses and Permits Bob Frances.
“We are honored to be recognized by the National Association of Counties for our work in the community,” said Department of Community Resources and Services Director Jacqueline R. Scott. “Through a broad collaborative network including government, non-profits, faith communities, and private sector we were able to ease the effects of food insecurity for hundreds of older adults, school-aged children, and families in Howard County by providing access to consistent, healthy meals. Additionally, through our HoCo Scholars program we were able to address educational inequities caused by the interruption of in-person school-based learning during the pandemic. With an eye towards educational achievement and equity, HoCo Scholars provided students with full-day academic supports and enrichment activities in COVID safe environments.”
“Over the past year we have made greats strides to improve our processes and provide excellent customer service to our constituents, supporting them through the challenges of the pandemic,” said Department of Technology and Communication Services Director Brandee Ganz. “We are honored to receive three NACo awards and look forward to continuing to provide premier digital services for all of our residents.”
“The implementation of our Mobile Integrated Community Health (MICH) has enhanced the quality of life for county residents, particularly those with difficulty accessing resources and services. The program quickly evolved to also become an important element in the county’s comprehensive COVID-19 response efforts from mobile testing, to providing follow up visits, to helping connect people to healthcare resources,” said Fire Chief William Anuszewski. “The team has also helped staff the county's mass vaccination sites and has directly administered COVID-19 vaccinations to thousands of individuals through the program’s mobile vaccination efforts. The members of this program are highly deserving of every accolade they receive.”
"We appreciate receiving a NACO achievement award in recognition of the housing department's Think Like A Lender course,” said Department of Housing and Community Development Director Kelly Cimino. “Over the past 4 years, 10 graduates of the program have purchased MIHU homes; 6 have purchased market rate homes and 8 are prequalified for mortgage loans and searching for homes. We plan to continue offering this program to credit-challenged MIHU applicants to help them purchase their first home and enjoy the many benefits of homeownership in Howard County."
“We are incredibly proud of these programs and the positive impact they are having in the community,” said Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman. “Our staff has worked hard to identify ways to address both the opioid crisis and the issue of youth suicide in Howard County. It is because of these efforts we have been able to save lives.”
“The Howard County Complete Streets Implementation Team, including our partners at the Horizon Foundation, worked hard to make the Community Engagement Plan as transparent, equitable and inclusive as possible,” said Office of Transportation Administrator Bruce Gartner. “It’s an honor to receive recognition of this effort through the NACo awards program.”
“Through the HoCo Rise Business Assistance Grant Program, we have been able to provide critical funds to targeted businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Howard County Economic Development Authority President/CEO Larry Twele. “We built the process in order to provide an efficient and straightforward experience for applicants and the rapid deployment of $18M through nearly 2,000 grants. HCEDA worked in close partnership with Howard County Department of Finance, Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services, and Visit Howard County to take extra measures to ensure applications were successful. Individual case management to hundreds of applicants ensured that grants were awarded to as many qualified businesses as possible. Our goal was to assist as many businesses as possible and we are particularly proud of our ability to serve women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses in our community, which represented more than 70% of our successful applicants.“