Awards

Catawba County is known across the nation as the home of an innovative county government. Our innovation is reflected in the awards the county has won over the past few decades. These awards are won in competition with other outstanding programs across the state and nation. Check below for a brief description of the recent awards earned by Catawba County. The years listed below indicate the fiscal year in which the awards were received.

2022

Hmong Keeb Kwm: The Hmong Heritage Project - awarded Best in Category, the Catawba County Library worked with the Hmong community, the Historical Association, and Digital Heritage NC to collect, curate, and preserve a digital collection of the twentieth-century history of Hmong migration and community-building within the region.

Catawba County Park System 7-Day Operations - recognizing the Park System's operational changes, including opening all parks 7 days a week and one hour earlier every day, that were made to help increase access to the county's outdoors and enhance quality of life.

Community Navigators - recognizing the Catawba County Library's development of a navigator role to assist residents one-on-one with identifying and locating resources for a variety of needs.

Wi-Fi for All - recognizing the Catawba County Library's wi-fi hot spot/laptop lending program that helps provide broadband access to residents who need it.

Presented to Catawba County Emergency Medical Services for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

2021

COVID-19 Community Spread Case Study - recognizing the "viral" reach of a COVID-19 community spread case study, infographic and column created by Catawba County Public Health, Emergency Services and Communications & Marketing to help demonstrate community spread in a visual way. Social media reach exceeded more than 244,000, with shares and re-tweets occurring across the country and globe. The case study also generated coverage in 57 print, television, radio and online media outlets nationwide and internationally.

Growing Jobs and Tax Base: Trivium Corporate Center, Inc. - recognizing the innovative partnership among Catawba County, the City of Hickory and the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation to develop Trivium Corporate Center, a Class A business park in Hickory. Since breaking ground in 2018, Trivium has attracted six companies committing a combined $210M in minimum private investment and 572 jobs, all with wages exceeding the Catawba County average wage.

Growing Jobs and Tax Base: Trivium Corporate Center, Inc. - recognizing the innovative partnership among Catawba County, the City of Hickory and the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation to develop Trivium Corporate Center, a Class A business park in Hickory. Since breaking ground in 2018, Trivium has attracted six companies committing a combined $210M in minimum private investment and 572 jobs, all with wages exceeding the Catawba County average wage.

Received from the Carolinas Association of Governmental Purchasing (CAGP), the Sustained Professional Purchasing Award is presented annually to CAGP member agencies that have demonstrated excellence in purchasing standards during the calendar year. Criteria for the award include the use of technology, minority outreach, staff certification, customer training, vendor training and the use of recycled products. This marks the seventh consecutive year Catawba County has earned this recognition. The Catawba County Purchasing Division was one of only 14 CAGP member agencies to receive the award in 2020.

The Catawba County Tax Office received a Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration from the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). Catawba County is currently the fourth jurisdiction in North Carolina to hold this distinction. The Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration (CEAA) recognizes jurisdictions using best practices in both appraisal and assessment within their tax offices. According to the IAAO, the CEAA is attained by jurisdictions that “demonstrate a high level of proficiency in the assessment and appraisal disciplines to both their constituents and their peers.”

Presented to Catawba County Emergency Medical Services for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to Budget & Management for the 33rd consecutive year. Received for the County’s Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget, the award recognizes government entities for producing a budget document which is easy to read and understand. According to the GFOA, this recognition “reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.” To earn GFOA recognition, Catawba County’s Budget & Management office had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well a government's budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide, and a communications device. Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four of these categories to receive the award.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2020. Catawba County has now won the award for 40 consecutive years. The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is presented to governmental units that the GFOA says "prepare and publish an easily readable, understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year."

Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award - presented to the Finance Office to recognize conformance with the highest standards for preparation of state and local government popular reports. In order to receive recognition, a government unit must publish a Popular Annual Financial Report whose contents conform to program standards of creativity, presentation, understandability, and reader appeal.

2020

Library to Go - The Catawba County Library System's version of a pop-up library, the Library to Go expanded the library’s capacity to build relationships, target areas of need, and partner in the community to bring services, materials, programs, technology resources, and internet access beyond the library walls and to the people that need them the most, especially to non-traditional locations and underserved audiences.

Catawba County Library System "Library to Go" – awarded a Best in Category designation, the highest honor given by NACo, for its innovative approach to delivering services. Library to Go has expanded the Library System’s capacity to build relationships, target areas of need, and partner in the community to bring services, materials, programs, technology resources, and internet access beyond the library walls and to the people that need them the most, especially to non-traditional locations and underserved audiences.

Catawba County Library System "Live Well @ the Library" – created to support countywide health promotion efforts, this collaborative initiative introduced a series of programs aimed at increasing awareness of healthy behaviors, teaching better habits and providing free opportunities to explore exercise.

Catawba County Tax Office and Catawba County Information Technology "Foreclosure Dashboard" – brings together data that had been previously tracked manually to give an accurate point-in-time status report regarding foreclosures.

Catawba County Utilities & Engineering and Catawba County Communications & Marketing "Make Your Recycling Efforts Count!" - a multi-week video campaign launched on Earth Day 2019 to help promote and support effective single-stream recycling practices.

Catawba County's video and social media campaign about how to lessen contamination of recycling efforts received a 2020 Annual Recycling Award from the Carolina Recycling Association. Each year, the CRS honors top performers that advance waste reduction and recycling in the Carolinas. Winners are selected by a committee of industry peers and scored in a variety of categories including contribution to the industry as a whole.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to Budget & Management for the 32nd consecutive year. Received for the County’s Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget, the award recognizes government entities for producing a budget document which is easy to read and understand. According to the GFOA, this recognition “reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.” To earn GFOA recognition, Catawba County’s Budget & Management office had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well a government's budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide, and a communications device. Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four of these categories to receive the award.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019. Catawba County has now won the award for 39 consecutive years. The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is presented to governmental units that the GFOA says "prepare and publish an easily readable, understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year."

Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award - presented to the Finance Office to recognize conformance with the highest standards for preparation of state and local government popular reports. In order to receive recognition, a government unit must publish a Popular Annual Financial Report whose contents conform to program standards of creativity, presentation, understandability, and reader appeal.

Presented to Catawba County Emergency Medical Services for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

The Downtown Newton Development Association named the Newton Library their “2020 Main Street Champion.” A non-competitive award, the NC Main Street Champion designation honors those persons/organizations who have made extraordinary contributions to their downtown.

2019

Catawba County earned a 2019 Local Government Federal Credit Union Excellence in Innovation Award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) for a web-based route mapping application developed for Meals on Wheels of Catawba County by Senior Nutrition Services and the county’s Geospatial Information Services (GIS) division. The Meals on Wheels mapping application was created to streamline and enhance the process of adding new Meals on Wheels clients to the agency’s home delivery services. The new application reduced the process of adding one new client to its delivery routes from 90 minutes to five minutes. The app also provides route optimization and mobile voice navigation components for volunteers making deliveries.

Presented to Social Services for a web-based route mapping application developed for Meals on Wheels of Catawba County by Senior Nutrition Services and the county’s Geospatial Information Services (GIS) division. The Meals on Wheels mapping application was created to streamline and enhance the process of adding new Meals on Wheels clients to the agency’s home delivery services. The new application reduced the process of adding one new client to its delivery routes from 90 minutes to five minutes. The app also provides route optimization and mobile voice navigation components for volunteers making deliveries.

Distinguished Budget Presentation - presented to Budget & Management for the 31st consecutive year. Received for the County’s Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget, the award recognizes government entities for producing a budget document which is easy to read and understand. According to the GFOA, this recognition “reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.” To earn GFOA recognition, Catawba County’s Budget & Management office had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well a government's budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide, and a communications device. Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four of these categories to receive the award.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018. Catawba County has now won the award for 38 consecutive years. The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is presented to governmental units that the GFOA says "prepare and publish an easily readable, understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year." Fewer than 250 government entities in the GFOA have received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 37 or more consecutive years. This places Catawba County in the top 10% of governments that have submitted Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports to the GFOA for consideration.

Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award - presented to the Finance Office for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018. The PAFR Award is a prestigious national award recognizing conformance with the highest standards for preparation of state and local government popular reports. In order to receive recognition, a government unit must publish a Popular Annual Financial Report whose contents conform to program standards of creativity, presentation, understandability, and reader appeal.

Presented to Catawba CountyEmergency Medical Services (EMS) for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

Transforming Health Achievement Award - presented to Public Health from the North Carolina Tobacco Prevention and Control branch for implementation of the CATCH My Breath program in middle and high schools across all three Catawba County school systems. Catawba County Public Health’s school nurses have been instrumental in making the program a success.

2018

Catawba County Public Health’s Child Oral Health Program – an innovative partnership between Catawba County Public Health’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and Catawba Family Dentistry. The two programs worked together to house a dental coordinator within the WIC office who serves as a liaison between WIC, the patient, and Catawba Family Dentistry to help make the appointment process easier for children and pregnant women who can benefit from both services. This direct, one-on-one approach has resulted in increased dental appointments and decreased dental appointment no-show rates for children and pregnant women served by the WIC program.

Catawba County Tax Office Land Pricing Wizards – a project designed to improve the efficiency of the County’s land revaluation process. Land revaluation is complex series of steps that in the past has taken nearly a full year to complete. By developing a more streamlined land coding system and incorporating new uses of technology, the Tax Office reduced the amount of time needed to produce accurate and current land values from eleven months to a few weeks. The use of technology not only increased operational efficiencies in the Tax Office but also enabled a virtually paperless system that reduces environmental waste.

Catawba County Library’s Connect, Explore, Grow: Engaging the Latino Community – aimed to improve service delivery to the County’s Spanish-speaking population. The initiative identified specific community needs, established marketing strategies to Spanish speakers to increase awareness of library resources, implemented culturally responsive programming and services, and partnered with local organizations to increase the library’s presence in the Latino community. These efforts have resulted in increased participation in ESL classes, computer classes, a growing book club, crochet classes, and the addition of Spanish language library resources.

Distinguished Budget Presentation - presented to Budget & Management for the 30th consecutive year. Received for the County’s Fiscal Year 2018-2019 budget, the award recognizes government entities for producing a budget document which is easy to read and understand. According to the GFOA, this recognition “reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.” To earn GFOA recognition, Catawba County’s Budget & Management office had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well a government's budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide, and a communications device. Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four of these categories to receive the award.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017. Catawba County has now won the award for 36 consecutive years. The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is presented to governmental units that the GFOA says "prepare and publish an easily readable, understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year." Fewer than 250 government entities in the GFOA have received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 36 or more consecutive years. This places Catawba County in the top 10% of governments that have submitted Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports to the GFOA for consideration.

Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award - presented to the Finance Office for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017. The PAFR Award is a prestigious national award recognizing conformance with the highest standards for preparation of state and local government popular reports. In order to receive recognition, a government unit must publish a Popular Annual Financial Report whose contents conform to program standards of creativity, presentation, understandability, and reader appeal.

Presented to Catawba County Emergency Medical Services for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

2017

Catawba County’s Geospatial Information Services (GIS) division, part of the County’s Information Technology department, received the G. Herbert Stout Award at the 2017 North Carolina GIS Conference. The award was conferred for the development of an emergency response vehicle dispatch simulation in collaboration with Catawba County Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The G. Herbert Stout Award was created to recognize visionary use of geographic information systems (GIS) by local governments in North Carolina. The award, which is only given to one county government and one city or town government each year, has been presented at the North Carolina GIS annual conference since 1993. To earn the award, a local government entity must demonstrate the development of a GIS application that illustrates one of more of the following: improved efficiency, cost reduction, increased productivity, innovation, or problem solving and must also show the benefits of GIS.

Catawba County Library’s Homework Helpers – enriches learning opportunities for students and increases educational attainment in Catawba County by supporting student learning through tutoring and coaching. It also increases teen engagement and supports active learning, personal growth, and leadership for teen volunteers who work with elementary students. The Library acts as the facilitator and host by bringing high school student volunteers together with elementary age students who need practice reading and help with their homework.

Catawba County Library’s Born to Read – a partnership with local hospitals and the Catawba County Partnership for Children to help improve kindergarten readiness and overall educational attainment in Catawba County. The Library presents early literacy training to expectant parents during prenatal classes. Before leaving the birthing center, parents of newborns receive a Born to Read Bag, complete with baby’s first book and library card, along with plenty of information resources to give their baby a head start on early literacy with immediate access to thousands of online resources, including children’s books, movies and music. The Library continues to support our youngest citizens through special collections, Baby Bounce and Ready to Learn story times, as well as outreach and education that positively reinforce early literacy development.

Catawba County Geospatial Information Services (GIS) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) – creation of a map-based simulation tool to analyze EMS incident response scenarios and accurately predict necessary EMS resources to meet the County’s under-eight-minute ambulance response benchmark. This collaborative tool has helped ensure efficient services to citizens without coverage gaps, minimal overhead cost for evaluating dispatch procedures, and better data analysis for prudent budget and resource allocation.

Catawba County Social Services Drug Testing and Purchase Order Portal – designed to help streamline the drug testing process that is sometimes required for clients. One of the contributing factors to why children are sometimes removed from their parents involves illegal substance abuse. Parents are often required by the court to undergo random drug testing and demonstrate sobriety in order to regain custody of their children. The new software created by Social Services’ IT staff provides a secure, paperless system that simplifies appointment scheduling, provides better tracking of appointments, and enables the testing clinic to organize client visits in a more efficient manner.

Catawba County Library’s Born to Read – a partnership with local hospitals and the Catawba County Partnership for Children to help improve kindergarten readiness and overall educational attainment in Catawba County. The Library presents early literacy training to expectant parents during prenatal classes. Before leaving the birthing center, parents of newborns receive a Born to Read Bag, complete with baby’s first book and library card, along with plenty of information resources to give their baby a head start on early literacy with immediate access to thousands of online resources, including children’s books, movies and music. The Library continues to support our youngest citizens through special collections, Baby Bounce and Ready to Learn story times, as well as outreach and education that positively reinforce early literacy development.

Catawba County Geospatial Information Services (GIS) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) – creation of a map-based simulation tool to analyze EMS incident response scenarios and accurately predict necessary EMS resources to meet the County’s under-eight-minute ambulance response benchmark. This collaborative tool has helped ensure efficient services to citizens without coverage gaps, minimal overhead cost for evaluating dispatch procedures, and better data analysis for prudent budget and resource allocation.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016. Catawba County has now won the award for 35 consecutive years. The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is presented to governmental units that the GFOA says "prepare and publish an easily readable, understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year." Fewer than 250 government entities in the GFOA have received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 35 or more consecutive years. This places Catawba County in the top 10% of governments that have submitted Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports to the GFOA for consideration.

Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award - presented to the Finance Office for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016. The PAFR Award is a prestigious national award recognizing conformance with the highest standards for preparation of state and local government popular reports. In order to receive recognition, a government unit must publish a Popular Annual Financial Report whose contents conform to program standards of creativity, presentation, understandability, and reader appeal.

Distinguished Budget Presentation - presented toBudget & Management for the 29th consecutive year. Received for the County’s Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget, the award recognizes government entities for producing a budget document which is easy to read and understand. According to the GFOA, this recognition “reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.” To earn GFOA recognition, Catawba County’s Budget & Management Office had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well a government's budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide, and a communications device. Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four of these categories to receive the award.

Presented to Catawba County Emergency Medical Services for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care and improving the quality of life for patients experiencing STEMI heart attacks, caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment.

2016

Presented to the Catawba County Planning Department by the Catawba County Historical Association for their ongoing cooperation and partnership in making Bunker Hill Covered Bridge a more accessible park and attractive destination. The Historical Association annually presents the Rebecca Hart Preservation Award in recognition of Mrs. Hart's decades of exemplary service to the Historical Association, Catawba Valley Pottery & Antiques Festival, and, of course, Hart Square.

Presented to Catawba County Public Health for the second time in a row. The Carolina Star, including the Public Sector Star award, is the most prestigious safety recognition given by the N.C. Department of Labor. Organizations that qualify for the award have exemplary safety and health programs in the workplace. Catawba County Public Health is the third health department in North Carolina to be recognized as a Public Sector Star site. There are currently four total Star sites in Catawba County and 151 across the state.

Presented to Catawba County Emergency Medical Services for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. The Mission: Lifeline program helps hospitals and emergency medical services develop systems of care that follow proven standards and procedures for acute coronary syndrome patients. Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Silver award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for one year.

Presented to the Catawba County Board of Commissioners for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s South Central District. One of five given regionally across North Carolina each year, the award recognizes a County's collaboration with Extension in innovative and inclusive ways, involvement of County elected officials in Extension-related educational programs, and notable resource contributions that support Extension programs.

Presented to the Catawba County Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 27th consecutive year in which the Catawba County Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2014-2015 Outstanding New Library Facility Recognition - presented to the Sherrills Ford-Terrell Branch of the Catawba County Library and its Director Suzanne White for the vibrant and service-oriented library system’s new branch and its easily accessible information and technology.

2014-2015 Public Relations Award - presented to the Catawba County Library and its Director Suzanne White for medium sized libraries. The Library created a simplified identity system, unifying its internal and public facing printed literature. Brochure, poster and newsletter templates were specifically designed to create a simple, clean presentation that internal contributors could easily follow and update. Public relations campaigns or products from public libraries around the state were judged on their Originality, Ability to be Replicated, Involvement with Other Community Organizations, Relationship to the library’s Mission, Effectiveness of Publicity and Results to Cost Ratio.

Library Director of the Year - presented to Catawba County Library Director Suzanne White by the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association at its statewide conference. Considered annually, this award is given to a current library director who has contributed to the growth and development of his or her library by providing leadership, inspiration, and creativity to staff, patrons, and trustees. White was nominated by Catawba County Library staff members, who cited her numerous contributions to the Library’s growth and development over the past year. Her nomination cited her ability to tackle the “phenomenal job of relationship building and communicating the impact of the library” and described her as “a model for community engagement and library advocacy.”

County Library TechConnect – a space where citizens explore and learn about technology, improve digital literacy, and gain hands-on experience with professional design and engineering tools. The TechConnect space offers low- to no-cost public access to resources like GoPro cameras, 3D scanners and printers, digital cutters, and sewing machines, ensuring equitable access to technologies that enrich and improve lives through open access to information, communication, and technology services. Equipped with both Windows and Apple products and staffed by a dedicated digital services librarian, TechConnect programs include training workshops and one-on-one assistance.

County Tax Office Educators of Revaluation – the creation of a uniform, transparent, detailed presentation of the revaluation process, shifting from a predominantly written narrative format to a more dynamic visual approach which has resulted in greater understanding among citizens and Board members and a higher degree of professionalism and consistency.

Social Services Trauma Informed Practice Model – an integrated, holistic approach to child welfare that emphasizes safety, permanency, and the importance of dealing with the short- and long-term effects of trauma. Through this approach, a multi-disciplinary staff team administers screening tools, functional assessments, and training to child welfare caseworkers, supervisors, and foster parents to help identify and manage situations in which trauma may be involved and help achieve better outcomes for children and youth receiving these services.

Social Services Web Portal for Emancipated Youth – provides a secure, streamlined place to store and access critical documents youth may need as they transition to adulthood. In the past, youth were provided hard copies of important documents that, if lost or misplaced, resulted in delays in accessing services and getting replacement documents. Along with enhancing services by providing links to useful resources, the portal has helped save time and frustration for newly emancipated youth.

Information TechnologyPerformance Dashboard – an interactive web-based tool that provides graphs, narratives, and performance indicators to organize information about Catawba County in an easy-to-access format. This comprehensive dashboard provides employees, citizens, and people interested in Catawba County a clean and intuitive tool to see data, including County demographics, County Government services, and the status of County performance in key goal areas, all in one place on any web-connected device and in a format that is uniquely scaled for that device.

2015

Recognizing the County’s commitment to environmental sustainability, including recycling efforts and being kind to the environment. This award from the National Recycling Coalition recognizes dedicated efforts made by citizens, businesses, school systems, and cities and towns.

Presented to the Catawba County Board of Commissioners, which the Extension recognized as being incredibly supportive of the Cooperative Extension Service and has helped gain access to needed resources and maintain departmental capacity in a time of State cutbacks and position losses in the organization."

Recognizing the County's technology, minority outreach, staff certification, customer training, vendor training, and the use of recycled products to once again be recognized for their excellence in purchasing standards by the Carolinas Association of Governmental Purchasing.

Public Health Farmers Market - In partnership with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, the Farmers Market’s goal is to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables while providing a new outlet for locally grown produce. WIC clients receive Farmers Market Nutritional Program vouchers when available to supplement their WIC food benefits with fresh, local produce during the summer months. Of the customers surveyed in the summer of 2014, 84.4% said the market helped increase the amount of fresh produce their family ate. Among surveyed WIC clients, the number was 94.6%. Following the market’s second season the WIC program had the highest voucher redemption rate in North Carolina at 64.37%.

County Library Community Garden Program - a collaboration with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Catawba Center and other local groups to grow local vegetables and minds, as well as provide learning opportunities and a chance to give back to the community. The produce is donated to community food banks while the garden itself provides a setting for Library programs and events.

Digital County Survey Award - presented by the Center for Digital Government (CDG) which ranked Catawba County as the number one ranked county nationally in its Top 10 Digital Counties Survey Awards, among counties across the nation with a population between 150,000 and 249,999 people. This is the second time in three years that Catawba County has been ranked number one. The CDG is a national research and advisory institute focused on IT policies and best practices in state and local government. The survey, conducted annually by CDG and Government Technology, in partnership with the National Association of Counties, evaluates entrants on their ability to demonstrate successful outcomes through the strategic use of technology. According to information from the CDG, the highest ranked counties, “earned top rankings in their respective population categories for effectively and efficiently using digital technologies to serve their citizens, streamline operations and achieve measurable benefits.”

County Library Early Literacy Outreach - Every Child Ready to Read program- a collaboration with local agencies, including the Catawba County Partnership for Children, through which the Library expanded its capacity to improve the early literacy and digital literacy skills of young children. It includes outreach to children in local daycares.

County Library Community Garden Program - a collaboration with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Catawba Center and other local groups to grow local vegetables and minds, as well as provide learning opportunities and a chance to give back to the community. The produce is donated to community food banks while the garden itself provides a setting for Library programs and events.

Public Health's Smoke-Free Initiative - a collaborative effort with Catawba County and six municipalities (Brookford, Catawba, Claremont, Conover, Hickory and Newton) to adopt tobacco-free campus policies or ordinances within the span of one year. Through this initiative, Public Health facilitated local movement toward tobacco-free government buildings, grounds and parks after first working with Catawba County to expand its smoke-free campus policy to a tobacco-free policy in March 2013.

Public Health Farmers Market - Presented annually to the most innovative program among those nominated across the United States. In partnership with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, the Farmers Market’s goal is to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables while providing a new outlet for locally grown produce. WIC clients receive Farmers Market Nutritional Program vouchers when available to supplement their WIC food benefits with fresh, local produce during the summer months. Of the customers surveyed in the summer of 2014, 84.4% said the market helped increase the amount of fresh produce their family ate. Among surveyed WIC clients, the number was 94.6%. Following the market’s second season the WIC program had the highest voucher redemption rate in North Carolina at 64.37%.

Child Wellbeing Project of Catawba County Social Services, which works with families when children leave foster care under age 16 for their reunified, guardianship or adoptive families. These families are offered the opportunity to receive up to two years of extended services. They have a success coach, who works with them to enhance parenting, communication and other life skills.

Catawba County Regional EcoComplex and Resource Recovery Facility, a system designed to recover all useable products and by-products from a group of private and public partners located in a close-knit defined area which, through shared resources among partners, focuses on making and using “green” energy and on the economic development of Catawba County.

Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Catawba County Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 33rd consecutive year in which the Catawba County Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award - presented to the Catawba County Finance Office for its Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2013. The award is presented to local government finance offices that create a report which gives highlights of the County’s fiscal year in a summary format. This is the seventh consecutive year in which the Catawba County Finance Office has won the award.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Catawba County Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 26th consecutive year in which the Catawba County Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2014

Commercial Recycling Program - a free and voluntary program that encourages local businesses to take proactive steps to improve their environmental record while improving their bottom-line. The program recognizes businesses in Catawba County that operate in an environmentally friendly manner by practicing the 4R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle, rebuy). The Commercial Recycling Program currently includes nineteen businesses. Companies enrolled in the program are able to access a wide range of data and assistance including a 49-page Resource Guide For Commercial Recycling And Waste Reduction. Program partners receive technical assistance at no cost. County staff helps partners find markets for their recyclable materials, both locally and around the state.

Remote Access Permitting Terminal or RAPT - provides real-time interaction between a citizen needing a permit at Hickory City Hall and a Permit Center Specialist located in the Catawba County Government Center in Newton. RAPT gives customers the ability to apply for and obtain residential and trade permits, or ask questions and receive answers about the permitting process from a remote location. RAPT utilizes video conferencing technology to allow citizens and contractors seamless interaction with Permit Center staff without the added time and expense of travelling from Hickory to Newton to conduct business. The system has allowed the County’s permitting process to evolve and maintain a high level of customer service without hiring additional staff to physically operate a second office.

Public Health Farmers Market - a partnership with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, the market’s goal is to improve individual and community health by increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables. WIC clients receive Farmers Market Nutritional Program vouchers when available to supplement their WIC food benefits with fresh, local produce during the summer months. Of the 415 customers surveyed at last year’s market, 88.4% said the market helped increase the amount of fresh produce their family ate. For surveyed WIC clients, that number was 95%. With the addition of this new market to our community, the WIC program had the third highest redemption rate, 62.9%, of Farmers Market Nutritional Program vouchers in North Carolina last year. The statewide average, which tends to hover around 50%, was 48.47% in 2013.

Social Services’ Children and Youth Investment Team (CAY-IT) - seeks to streamline the process for finding permanent placements for children in foster care, resulting in less trauma for the child and faster decisions. CAY-IT brings together professionals from several different governmental units to work collaboratively in planning for permanent placements for foster children who have been in care longer than average. The program has improved permanency planning for children in foster care by bringing a wide range of expertise to the planning process. The result is a faster, better decision-making process.

Community Sustainability Program Excellence Award - presented to the Immigrant Agriculture Program, a cooperative effort of Catawba County Government, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension-Catawba Center and the Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina A&T State University, which works primarily with Hmong farmers living in Catawba County to help them become more successful in growing and marketing their produce.

Presented to the Child Wellbeing Project of Social Services, which works with families when children leave foster care under age 16 for their reunified, guardianship or adoptive families. These families are offered the opportunity to receive up to two years of extended services. They have a success coach, who works with them to enhance parenting, communication and other life skills.

Presented to the Catawba County Finance Office for the ways in which that office improved "efficiency in accounting through its use of electronic processing and storage of accounts payable files, including supporting documentation."

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 32nd consecutive year in which the Catawba County Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award - presented to the Finance Office for its Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2013. The award is presented to local government finance offices that create a report which gives highlights of the County’s fiscal year in a summary format. This is the sixth consecutive year in which the Catawba County Finance Office has won the award.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 25th consecutive year in which the Catawba County Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2013

Performance Dashboard - awarded to the Catawba County Facts and Figures page, which may be accessed at https://dashboard.catawbacountync.gov/performance-dashboard/, that offers users a choice of exploring data grouped into eight broad categories. Clicking on the button for each category allows the user to drill down into many other data sets within that content area. Created by County Budget Analyst Paul Murray, the dashboard offers users the choice of seeking data on General County Information, Education, Public Safety, Human Services, Economic and Physical Development, Culture, Environmental Quality and General Government. Once a user selects one of those broad topics, he or she will be taken to another screen with additional choices

Digital County Survey award - presented by the Center for Digital Government (CDG) which ranked Catawba County as the number one ranked county nationally in its Top 10 Digital Counties Survey Awards, among counties across the nation with a population between 150,000 and 249,999 people. The CDG is a national research and advisory institute focused on IT policies and best practices in state and local government. The survey, conducted annually by CDG and Government Technology, in partnership with the National Association of Counties, evaluates entrants on their ability to demonstrate successful outcomes through the strategic use of technology. According to information from the CDG, the highest ranked counties, “earned top rankings in their respective population categories for effectively and efficiently using digital technologies to serve their citizens, streamline operations and achieve measurable benefits.”

Educational Advocate Program, Department of Social Services - Transitioning into foster care is not easy for a child. To try to make this transition as easy as possible and to minimize the number of school moves, Catawba County Social Services started an Educational Advocate Service with the goal of improving educational continuity and stability for children in foster care. The Educational Advocate is a full-time social worker who serves as a liaison with the county’s three public school systems and focuses on the educational achievement, stability and continuity of children from their entry into foster care through post-care. The Educational Advocate is part of the Child Wellbeing Project, a research partnership with The Duke Endowment, which provides an array of supportive services to improve the well-being of children who have been in the custody of Catawba County Social Services.

Thermal Energy Exchange, Capture and Utilization Project, Department of Utilities and Engineering - In 1999, Catawba County became the first landfill owner/operator in North Carolina to use landfill gas to generate electricity. The engines used to generate electricity produced a substantial amount of thermal energy or heat as a byproduct. Recognizing the potential of this thermal energy byproduct, county staff began to develop the concept for today’s Regional EcoComplex and Resource Recovery Facility (EcoComplex). The basic principle of the EcoComplex is that each component’s byproducts must be used as a fuel source, energy source or some other through-put for another EcoComplex entity. These synergetic Eco Complex relationships are a system of applied industrial ecology to waste management. Located adjacent to the Biodiesel Facility are three one-megawatt landfill gas-to-energy generator sets. Each generator contains a cooling system, not unlike the cooling system found in a car or truck, designed to keep the engines from overheating. As the coolant circulates through the engine, it transfers heat from the engines, thereby keeping them from overheating. The heat being carried away is a thermal energy source.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 24th consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 31st consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award - presented to the Finance Office for its Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2012. The award is presented to local government finance offices that create a report which gives highlights of the County’s fiscal year in a summary format. This is the fifth consecutive year in which the Catawba County Finance Office has won the award.

2012

Backpack Program for Children: This Department of Social Services program was established to reach families affected by economic distress, and it serves as an ongoing, immediate source of food for students during weekends and extended breaks from school. The program also educates parents about resources in the community, including job fairs and other free family-oriented activities, by including printed information about these programs in the backpacks. The program was a true community effort. BB&T Bank employees contributed 400 hours of volunteer assistance, and BB&T provided $10,000 in funds. Churches and community members also provided financial and volunteer assistance. The Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, a non-profit organization, provided 3,000 square feet of warehouse space for food storage and a place to pack the backpacks. The program initially served 360 students in seven elementary schools and now serves 980 students per week and is in 20 of the county’s 25 elementary schools.

Green Vendor Exhibition - The exhibit, organized by the County's Purchasing Division and Recycling Education Office, was designed to shine a spotlight on existing and potential vendors that specialize in providing recycled and environmentally-friendly products and services. The County’s Buy Recycled Policy, implemented in 2007, requires the procurement division to educate employees on green products and services. Procurement staff began planning the event in May 2011, researched event locations, established vendor fee guidelines and developed a list of potential vendors with a focus on our local Catawba County vendors. The Catawba County Chamber of Commerce assisted in advertising the event to its membership. The exhibition was unique because it was strictly for governmental employees and because vendors only exhibited their green products, materials and services. A variety of products and services were on display, including office supplies, office furniture, printing/promotional products, janitorial supplies, vehicles, maintenance/facilities, copiers and recycling services. Since a fee was not charged to vendors and sponsorship was voluntary, the event gave an opportunity to small, local businesses to reach a large audience with minimal expense.

Backpack Program for Children - This Department of Social Services program was established to reach families affected by economic distress, and it serves as an ongoing, immediate source of food for students during weekends and extended breaks from school. The program also educates parents about resources in the community, including job fairs and other free family-oriented activities, by including printed information about these programs in the backpacks. The program was a true community effort. BB&T Bank employees contributed 400 hours of volunteer assistance, and BB&T provided $10,000 in funds. Churches and community members also provided financial and volunteer assistance. The Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, a non-profit organization, provided 3,000 square feet of warehouse space for food storage and a place to pack the backpacks. The program initially served 360 students in seven elementary schools and now serves 980 students per week and is in 20 of the county’s 25 elementary schools.

Healthy Schools Recognition Program - A Public Health program, which was created by Eat Smart Move More Catawba County (ESMM), a volunteer coalition aimed at reducing and preventing childhood obesity. The annual program encourages schools to meet or maintain seven specific criteria to be recognized as a Healthy School. Among the criteria are having a school wellness council that meets monthly and consists of school personnel and parents, offering fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables during lunch at least three times a week, 30 minutes of physical activity a day in grades K-8 and having a healthy foods policy for concessions. Sixteen of the county’s 40 public schools participated in the program during 2010-11, and 10 were recognized as a Healthy School.

QR Codes on Building Permits - QR codes are a type of barcode, or two-dimensional code, designed to be read by smart phones. They look like black boxes with black and white patterns inside the boxes. When a picture of the code is taken with a smart phone, the phone is connected to more information via the internet. Catawba County was recognized for implementation of a Building Permit QR Codes system, which provides building contractors and inspectors with up-to-the-minute job site and inspection information, at their fingertips, in the field.

Government Innovation Grant Award (GIGA) - Catawba County won the top GIGA for 2011 from the UNC School of Government and North Carolina Local Government Information Systems Association, for its innovative use of Quick Response (QR) Codes on building permits issued in the county. QR codes are a type of barcode, or two-dimensional code, designed to be read by smart phones. They look like black boxes with black and white patterns inside the boxes. When a picture of the code is taken with a smart phone, the phone is connected to more information via the internet. Catawba County was recognized for implementation of a Building Permit QR Codes system, which provides building contractors and inspectors with up-to-the-minute job site and inspection information, at their fingertips, in the field.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 23rd consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 30th consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award - presented to the Finance Office for its Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2011. The award is presented to local government finance offices that create a report which gives highlights of the County’s fiscal year in a summary format. This is the fourth consecutive year in which the Catawba County Finance Office has won the award.

2011

Catawba County won a quarterly GIGA from the UNC School of Government and North Carolina Local Government Information Systems Association, for its innovative use of Quick Response (QR) Codes on building permits issued in the county. QR codes are a type of barcode, or two-dimensional code, designed to be read by smart phones. They look like black boxes with black and white patterns inside the boxes. When a picture of the code is taken with a smart phone, the phone is connected to more information via the internet. Catawba County was recognized for implementation of a Building Permit QR Codes system, which provides building contractors and inspectors with up-to-the-minute job site and inspection information, at their fingertips, in the field.

A Partnership in Prevention - presented to Catawba County Social Services. The Social Services Child Support Unit partnered with the Prevention Unit, which operates the Teen Up program. Teen Up is a poverty reduction and prevention program that focuses on drop out and pregnancy prevention and serves approximately 400 male and female students annually. Social workers provide students, in small group settings, with information and education on the impact of sex and the prevention of teen pregnancy. Students who begin the program as 7th or 8th graders are followed from middle school through high school.

The program provides information to students regarding the financial implications of teen pregnancy, as well as the reality of government assistance and child support. A child support staff member attends a group session and begins by asking the students to talk about their ‘needs’ each month, meaning cell phone costs, clothes, entertainment and food, and how much they spend on those items. As the conversation continues, there is discussion about benefits available from the government and the child support program, as well as eligibility requirements. The attitude of the teens often implies that, if they get pregnant, they will be able to get all of these services. An important by-product of this discussion is that myths attached with ‘living off of government assistance’ are dispelled. Ideally, the visits take place after the students have participated in the “Baby, Think it Over” program, through which students experience a simulation of caring for a baby during a week or weekend period and are then brought into a discussion surrounding financial support for themselves as a single mother or father.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Catawba County Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 29th consecutive year in which the Catawba County Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Catawba County Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 22nd consecutive year in which the Catawba County Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2010

Educational Improvement Initiative for Children In Foster Care Program - presented to Catawba County Social Services. The Educational Improvement Initiative aimed to improve educational continuity and stability for children in foster care in Catawba County. The initiative included establishment of a communication protocol and identification of designees in 44 schools to minimize school moves or facilitate school record transfers; a coordinated database to capture school progress and special needs; inclusion of educational information in court reports; raised awareness of the educational needs of children in foster care among child welfare and educational staff; focus on special educational needs of children in foster care; and the establishment of an Educational Advocate position at Social Services to assure coordination of transportation, school enrollment, and information sharing. The work of the program and its staff reduced the school “move rate” for children entering foster care in Catawba County from 24% to 6% in 2009, compared to the national average of 66% of children experiencing school moves. In addition, while 50% of children in foster care were not on grade level in 2006, after tracking educational progress staff found that 79% of children surveyed in 2009 either maintained a passing grade or improved a letter grade in a subject area of need.

Community-Based Crisis Intervention Program - presented to Catawba County Social Services. The Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) provides federal funds to low-income families in heating and cooling crises. Social Services was overwhelmed with the volume of applicants for these funds in late 2008 and early 2009. In April 2009, Social Services' staff met with representatives from three local non-profit agencies to discuss the possibility of joining forces to serve families in a more holistic manner. As a result of these discussions, CIP funds were made available to these agencies. The non-profit agencies involved include the Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry; the Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry; and the Salvation Army of Hickory. These agencies provide a diverse range of services to struggling individuals and families including clothing closets, food pantries, a medical clinic with pharmacy services, and financial assistance with shelter and utility costs.

Educational Improvement Initiative for Children In Foster Care Program - presented to Catawba County Social Services. The Educational Improvement Initiative aimed to improve educational continuity and stability for children in foster care in Catawba County. The initiative included establishment of a communication protocol and identification of designees in 44 schools to minimize school moves or facilitate school record transfers; a coordinated database to capture school progress and special needs; inclusion of educational information in court reports; raised awareness of the educational needs of children in foster care among child welfare and educational staff; focus on special educational needs of children in foster care; and the establishment of an Educational Advocate position at Social Services to assure coordination of transportation, school enrollment, and information sharing. The work of the program and its staff reduced the school “move rate” for children entering foster care in Catawba County from 24% to 6% in 2009, compared to the national average of 66% of children experiencing school moves. In addition, while 50% of children in foster care were not on grade level in 2006, after tracking educational progress staff found that 79% of children surveyed in 2009 either maintained a passing grade or improved a letter grade in a subject area of need.

School Nurse Alternative Schedule Project - presented to Catawba County Public Health. In 2005, a partnership was formed between Catawba Valley Medical Center and Public Health to expand the School Nurse program. Public Health, with the support of the Board of Commissioners, was already supporting ten full time (12 month) school nurse positions. Aware of the impact of school nursing on the health and wellness of students, the hospital's CEO and the Board of Commissioners allocated funding to support five additional school nurse positions, bringing the total to fifteen. While this improved the school nurse to student ratio from 1 nurse per 3000 students to 1 nurse per 1600 students, more school nurses were needed to adequately address children’s health needs. Additional positions were funded by a three year grant in the amount of $666,933 from the Duke Endowment. This grant allowed Catawba County to expand the School Health Program to a total of twenty three school nurses, resulting in a nurse to student ratio of 1 nurse per 1000 students, much closer to the Centers for Disease Control's recommendation of 1 nurse per 750 students. When the grant funding ended in 2008, at about the time the severe economic downturn began, the program faced a major challenge. Ultimately, a 90% work schedule was created that allowed improved program efficiency, provided the opportunity for school nurses to be off for 5.2 weeks every summer, more effectively used program funding, and more closely aligned the school nurse work schedule with that of the school schedule.

Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Domestic Victims Unit (DVU) - The DVU is a branch of the Special Victims Unit, a section of the Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division. The DVU investigates cases encompassing all forms of domestic violence, from misdemeanor assaults and communication of threats to more serious offenses such as felony assaults with weapons, assaults on or in front of children, sexual assaults and murder. The DVU works closely with Catawba County Social Services, the First Step Domestic Violence Center, and Rape Crisis Center of Catawba County to provide the highest quality of services to the victims of domestic violence. Prior to 2008, the Sheriff's Office did not offer any directed services or otherwise differentiate between victims of domestic violence and other persons reporting they were victimized by a crime committed against them. In 2008, the Sheriff's Office created two new enforcement positions dedicated to the investigation of domestic violence, sexual assaults committed against adults, and the service of Domestic Violence Protective Orders.

Community-Based Crisis Intervention Program -- presented to Catawba County Social Services. The Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) provides federal funds to low-income families in heating and cooling crises. Social Services was overwhelmed with the volume of applicants for these funds in late 2008 and early 2009. In April 2009, Social Services' staff met with representatives from three local non-profit agencies to discuss the possibility of joining forces to serve families in a more holistic manner. As a result of these discussions, CIP funds were made available to these agencies. The non-profit agencies involved include the Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry; the Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry; and the Salvation Army of Hickory. These agencies provide a diverse range of services to struggling individuals and families including clothing closets, food pantries, a medical clinic with pharmacy services, and financial assistance with shelter and utility costs.

Educational Improvement Initiative for Children In Foster Care Program - presented to Catawba County Social Services. The Educational Improvement Initiative aimed to improve educational continuity and stability for children in foster care in Catawba County. The initiative included establishment of a communication protocol and identification of designees in 44 schools to minimize school moves or facilitate school record transfers; a coordinated database to capture school progress and special needs; inclusion of educational information in court reports; raised awareness of the educational needs of children in foster care among child welfare and educational staff; focus on special educational needs of children in foster care; and the establishment of an Educational Advocate position at Social Services to assure coordination of transportation, school enrollment, and information sharing. The work of the program and its staff reduced the school “move rate” for children entering foster care in Catawba County from 24% to 6% in 2009, compared to the national average of 66% of children experiencing school moves. In addition, while 50% of children in foster care were not on grade level in 2006, after tracking educational progress staff found that 79% of children surveyed in 2009 either maintained a passing grade or improved a letter grade in a subject area of need.-accor
Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting-Government Finance Officers Association- presented to the Catawba County Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 28th consecutive year in which the Catawba County Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 21st consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2009

Reports, Outcomes and Services (ROCs) Team - presented to Catawba County Social Services. A Social Services team created a streamlined data compilation system to meet challenging new State requirements for the documenting of child protective services cases. Child Protective Services staff described itself as “flabbergasted” when they received new State documentation requirements in 2008. The new guidelines included a fifteen page booklet that required staff to manually fill in data blanks and narrative. Staff was given only two months to incorporate these requirements into its existing processes. It faced a real possibility of spending upwards of 40 additional minutes with each of the 2000+ cases assessed each year, just to meet this new mandate. The team created a master application document that could be connected to future development efforts. It mapped out the specifications and needs, designed a system, and created a master application that consolidated the State’s new documentation requirements and five other existing applications the agency had been using. The team considered all aspects of service provision, from program management and supervision to data analysis to data entry.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 27th consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 20th consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2008

Catawba County EcoComplex- presented to the Catawba County Department of Utilities and Engineering. The EcoComplex is designed to promote economic development and create new jobs in the green energy, green business, agricultural and environmental sectors. It will accommodate research involving all aspects related to biologically-derived energy recovery and use, as well as the research of alternative fuels and minimization of greenhouse gases for environmental, agricultural and energy use.

Expedited Paternity Testing program- presented to the Catawba County Department of Social Services. The program expedited the paternity testing process for families appearing before the court in Child Welfare matters. Juvenile Court judges who hear cases relating to child abuse neglect and dependency frequently require paternity testing to verify the paternity of children whose cases are before the court, and ensure the court is addressing the rights of biological parents. This previously required scheduling an appointment with an independent testing lab. Many parents are difficult to locate and even more difficult to motivate to appear at a lab for a paternity test. Often a parent appeared in court once as a result of being incarcerated, only to disappear again before the paternity test could be scheduled. The Expedited Paternity Testing program created a solution for this problem. The Legal Assistant for child welfare attorneys and all Child Support staff were trained to take the lab samples for paternity testing. When paternity testing is ordered, the Legal Assistant is in court and is able to take all parties aside and perform the necessary tests. If members of a family come into the Department of Social Services, there is a well trained crew of Child Support staff willing and able to assist with the testing.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 26th consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 19th consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2007

Catawba Tax Link Program - This program provides free tax preparation services for low income families in Catawba County. With many Catawba County families facing major financial difficulties as a result of plant shutdowns and layoffs in the county, Catawba County Social Services staff wanted to make sure these citizens were not paying too much in income taxes or fees to file their taxes. Staff learned that many low-income citizens paid tax preparers hundreds of dollars each year to file their tax forms. Others didn’t know about the Earned Income Tax Credit or didn’t understand their potential eligibility for it, and still others paid significant fees just to get a rapid refund when they filed their taxes. After consulting with the Internal Revenue Service, a handful of Social Services staff established a VITA (Volunteers in Tax Assistance) site in 2005 to provide free tax assistance for low-income families. The team is now in its third year. This tax year, the 29 members of the team donated 774 hours of volunteer time to the effort, generating $407,564 in returns for local citizens.

Catawba County E-News- Catawba County E-News was honored in the External Publications category among all counties with a population of between 100,000 and 500,000 people. Catawba County E-News is e-mailed to subscribers twice each month, with occasional additional issues as the timing of events may warrant. The newsletter includes brief presentations of four or five "stories" on different issues, which contain links subscribers may click on to be taken directly to Catawba County's web site for more information on that story. Certain items are featured regularly, but the newsletter will continually focus on the latest news and services provided by Catawba County Government.

Catawba County EcoComplex- presented to Catawba County from the Alliance for Innovation, this national award honored Catawba County’s ongoing efforts to create an EcoComplex at and near the Blackburn Landfill in Vale. The EcoComplex is designed to promote economic development and create new jobs in the green energy, green business, agricultural and environmental sectors. It will accommodate research involving all aspects related to biologically-derived energy recovery and use, as well as the research of alternative fuels and minimization of greenhouse gases for environmental, agricultural and energy use.

Catawba Tax Link Program- This program provides free tax preparation services for low income families in Catawba County. With many Catawba County families facing major financial difficulties as a result of plant shutdowns and layoffs in the county, Catawba County Social Services staff wanted to make sure these citizens were not paying too much in income taxes or fees to file their taxes. Staff learned that many low-income citizens paid tax preparers hundreds of dollars each year to file their tax forms. Others didn’t know about the Earned Income Tax Credit or didn’t understand their potential eligibility for it, and still others paid significant fees just to get a rapid refund when they filed their taxes. After consulting with the Internal Revenue Service, a handful of Social Services staff established a VITA (Volunteers in Tax Assistance) site in 2005 to provide free tax assistance for low-income families. The team is now in its third year. This tax year, the 29 members of the team donated 774 hours of volunteer time to the effort, generating $407,564 in returns for local citizens.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 25th consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 18th consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2006

Family NET Design Team - Catawba County's Social Services Director, Bobby Boyd, and Mental Health Director, John Hardy, received a Ralph W. Ketner Productivity Award for their leadership in the development of the Family NET (Nurturing, Education and Training) Unit, which provides consolidated services for families and children. The NCACC presents only ten Ketner Awards across the state in any year, and they are awarded to programs judged to be the best examples in North Carolina of creativity, innovation and commitment to improving county services. Family NET is an integration of mental health and social services for children, youth and families created by the Catawba County Department of Social Services and Mental Health Services of Catawba County, which began operations on July 1, 2004. The integrated network was created in response to the State of North Carolina's Mental Health Reform initiative. This legislation required area mental health programs to be separated from the actual delivery of services, to establish an alternative service delivery system and to begin providing the community with referral to services and oversight of those services, by July 2004. Mental Health Services staff, under the leadership of John Hardy, worked for months to create the local structures that now serve Catawba County citizens and met the State's mental health redesign standards. Family NET became a part of the Department of Social Services' Family & Children’s Services Unit. Dr. Gordon Cappelletty is serving as its clinical director.

Catawba Tax Link Program- This program provides free tax preparation services for low income families in Catawba County. With many Catawba County families facing major financial difficulties as a result of plant shutdowns and layoffs in the county, Catawba County Social Services staff wanted to make sure these citizens were not paying too much in income taxes or fees to file their taxes. Staff learned that many low-income citizens paid tax preparers hundreds of dollars each year to file their tax forms. Others didn’t know about the Earned Income Tax Credit or didn’t understand their potential eligibility for it, and still others paid significant fees just to get a rapid refund when they filed their taxes. After consulting with the Internal Revenue Service, a handful of Social Services staff established a VITA (Volunteers in Tax Assistance) site in 2005 to provide free tax assistance for low-income families. The group decided to enlist business staff/students from Catawba Valley Community College and Lenoir Rhyne College’s Phi Beta Lambda to create a volunteer tax team.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 24th consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 17th consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2005

Family NET Design Team - Catawba County's Social Services Director, Bobby Boyd, and Mental Health Director, John Hardy, received a Ralph W. Ketner Productivity Award for their leadership in the development of the Family NET (Nurturing, Education and Training) Unit, which provides consolidated services for families and children. The NCACC presents only ten Ketner Awards across the state in any year, and they are awarded to programs judged to be the best examples in North Carolina of creativity, innovation and commitment to improving county services. Family NET is an integration of mental health and social services for children, youth and families created by the Catawba County Department of Social Services and Mental Health Services of Catawba County, which began operations on July 1, 2004. The integrated network was created in response to the State of North Carolina's Mental Health Reform initiative. This legislation required area mental health programs to be separated from the actual delivery of services, to establish an alternative service delivery system and to begin providing the community with referral to services and oversight of those services, by July 2004. Mental Health Services staff, under the leadership of John Hardy, worked for months to create the local structures that now serve Catawba County citizens and met the State's mental health redesign standards. Family NET became a part of the Department of Social Services' Family & Children’s Services Unit. Dr. Gordon Cappelletty is serving as its clinical director.

2004 Election Team - A team of County employees that did extensive research on the various kinds of voting tabulators being manufactured, as it became apparent the County would need to move to a new generation of tabulators. Team members recommended that the Board of Elections and Board of Commissioners select the eSlate tabulators made by Hart Intercivic of Austin, Texas, after two models were tested by volunteer voters during the 2003 elections. Other members of the team then formed a speaker’s bureau which demonstrated the new tabulators at some outdoor festivals and to church and civic groups. The speaker’s bureau spoke to more than 1000 people between April and October 2004.

Meeting The Needs Of Limited English Proficiency Program - A Department of Social Services program designed to make delivery of services to persons with limited proficiency in English. Since the program began, Catawba County Public Assistance Units have increased the number of bilingual/bicultural staff by 900%. To help with the retention of bilingual staff, Catawba County created a pay stipend for qualified bilingual employees. Bilingual staff may apply for a stipend of 5% or 10% if their skills are high enough. To qualify, the employee must pass an oral and/or written proficiency test administered at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory. Those who score “Intermediate Mid” or above on either a written or oral proficiency test are eligible for a 5% pay stipend. Those who score “Intermediate Mid” or higher on both tests will receive a 10% pay stipend.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 23rd consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 16th consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2004

Awarded to a Catawba County program working to enhance the overall physical well-being of emergency medical workers has been named the most innovative and effective program in the state by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC). The concept for the Catawba County EMS Physical Standards Program was developed in June 2002 to enhance the physical agility of emergency medical response employees; reduce the incidence of workers compensation claims and lost time; reduce sick leave usage; and promote the overall physical well being of these employees.

Employee Health Clinic - Catawba County's Employee Health Clinic (EHC) opened in October 2002 to enhance and promote employee wellness; reduce health insurance and worker's compensation costs; decrease sick leave use; provide on-site care for routine illnesses and injuries; offer prevention and early detection of potential health problems; provide services to supplement wellness and health education programs; and offer in-house pre-employment medical screenings and drug testing. The program is not intended to take the place of an employee’s primary physician. The County has promoted, and will continue to promote, the importance of employees maintaining a relationship with a physician of the employee’s choice. The clinic was implemented during a time when health insurance cost increases were escalating, as a way of reducing those costs and making it easier for employees to obtain various kinds of routine health care.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 22nd consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 15th consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2003

Food Stamp Wait Time Reduction Project - From May 2000 to May 2001, the number of Catawba County citizens receiving Food Stamp assistance jumped by 94%. Although two new staff persons were added to the Food Stamp Office in 2001, the lobby of the office was frequently filled to capacity throughout the business day. In response, staff members developed a system to have more workers available during peak times of day. Case workers began using a "flex" schedule to provide more coverage during those busiest times, without adding additional personnel. Staff members rotated in a shift from desk work to covering the intake portion of the system during peak times. Although this change improved the problem, it did not eliminate it. Staff then devised new schedules, reducing lunch hours to a 30 minute time period, to make more staff members available at peak times. In order to avoid the need for overtime, staff involved in this shift are scheduled for time off during one afternoon each week, on a day when they are not assigned to take applications. NACo named this program as "Best of Category" for 2003, judging it the best of all nominees in the Human Services category from across the United States.

Twelve Most Wanted Non-Supporting Parent Poster Program - Child Support agents face the reality that some parents do everything possible to attempt to evade making child support payments. In Catawba County, agents are responsible for over 500 cases. Collection rates reveal that 65% of persons making child support are actively cooperating with agents. The remaining 35% include parents who have refused to respond to agents, and have evaded all attempts to be brought back before the court and into compliance with the existing child support court order. The “12 Most Wanted Non-Supporting Parents Poster” program was crafted to make the community aware of this serious problem.

Tri-County Non-Custodial Parent Employment Program - The Tri-County Non-Custodial Parent Employment Program is designed to fill a gap in services by assisting non-custodial parents in finding and sustaining employment. Prior to this program, there had been no employment programs in these counties to assist non-custodial parents to meet their child support responsibilities through stable employment. Participants were given job counseling, assistance in developing a resume' and other support needed to find and keep a job. The program was funded by Federal Welfare to Work funds.

Medical First Response Incentive Program - In 2000-2001, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners established an aggressive goal of a four-minute response time for all emergency calls requiring medical first responders. Expansion of ambulance services by the County in recent years had accomplished a goal of eight-minute responses for full-time county paramedics and ambulance transport, but volunteer first responders were often arriving after the ambulance crew. To accomplish the Board of Commissioners’ goal, an innovative pilot project was developed and implemented with two rescue squads, the Claremont and Hickory Rescue Squads, and the Hickory Fire Department. In exchange for additional funding, $25 per day and $40 for each call responded to, the squads committed to respond with an EMT-Defibrillator (EMT-D) certified person on 90% of calls and maintain a response time of six minutes.

Claremont Branch Library Program - For many years, citizens and civic leaders in Claremont actively sought a branch library. The solution to this need came with renovations to the Claremont City Hall. In the fall of 2001, the city began renovating its city building and offered 2400 square feet of space within the building to the County Library for a new branch. Library staff planned the layout of the new facilities. Bookshelves and a circulation desk were moved from an old and unused elementary school and refinished to hold books, which were purchased using a $21,385 grant from the State Aid to Libraries Fund. Private citizens donated more than $2200 for the purchase of books for children, while McKinley Leather Company donated leather chairs for a reading area and $10,000 for computer equipment. County Library and Technology staff members worked with City of Claremont employees to move the shelving and desk space to the new branch. Technology Department staff configured and installed a variety of computer equipment and a public access catalog, which were purchased with a donation from Alcatel, a Claremont-based fiber optics manufacturer. The City of Claremont also provided a part-time staff person to work at the library. $41,715 was budgeted in the County's fiscal year 2002-2003 budget for operation of the new branch.

Employee Health Clinic - Catawba County's Employee Health Clinic (EHC) opened in October 2002 to enhance and promote employee wellness; reduce health insurance and worker's compensation costs; decrease sick leave use; provide on-site care for routine illnesses and injuries; offer prevention and early detection of potential health problems; provide services to supplement wellness and health education programs; and offer in-house pre-employment medical screenings and drug testing. The program is not intended to take the place of an employee’s primary physician. The County has promoted, and will continue to promote, the importance of employees maintaining a relationship with a physician of the employee’s choice. The clinic was implemented during a time when health insurance cost increases were escalating, as a way of reducing those costs and making it easier for employees to obtain various kinds of routine health care. Six Catawba County employees who were involved in creating the clinic were named as winners of the award and share a $1000 prize, which they have agreed to donate for clinic operating expenses. They include Bradley; County Risk Manager, Betty Coulter; Kim Hentschel, County Wellness Nurse; Sarah Lawson, Catawba County Public Health's Nursing Supervisor; Major Coy Reid of the Catawba County Sheriff's Office; Nancy Rockett, County Personnel Services Coordinator, and former Deputy County Manager Steve Wyatt, who is now County Manager in Moore County, North Carolina.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the 21st consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award. Only about 2% of local governments across the U.S. and Canada have won the award for 20 years in a row.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the 14th consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2002

The Homebuyer's Club- The Catawba County Homebuyer's Club was part of a program designed to assist families in securing safe, decent and affordable housing as they moved from the old welfare system to Work First and, finally, to lasting self-sufficiency. It began when the Department of Social Services and the Western Piedmont Council of Governments secured a grant for the program from the State of North Carolina in 1999.On June 13, 2001, as a result of this program, 16 families graduated from the first Homebuyer's Club Economic Literacy Class. As of January 2002, 12 of the 16 families had been able to purchase their own homes. A second class, with 13 families, began in August 2001 and concluded June 30, 2002 with 10 families purchasing their own home.

Sheriff's Multi-Agency Traffic Interdiction Unit - a collaborative program of the Sheriff's Offices in Catawba, Burke, Davie, Iredell, McDowell and Rowan counties. Faced with growing populations, increased traffic volume and alarming human and financial losses associated with traffic crashes on their highways, six sheriffs in western North Carolina joined forces to form a traffic enforcement unit. The National Highway Transportation Administration has given the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program an "Innovative Program Award" for its funding of this unit and the National Sheriff's Association also recently honored the unit with its J. Stannard Baker Traffic Safety Award. These six counties had an average ranking of 50th out of the state's 100 counties for fatal traffic accidents, with an average of 1.85 fatalities occurring for every 100 miles traveled. All of the counties except Davie have cities or municipalities that ranked in the top 25 in the state in crash rates. The crashes cost the residents of the six counties more than $821 million collectively each year, and speeding was the leading violation in all fatal crashes. During the first year of the program, the participating counties experienced a 22% decrease in traffic fatalities. Rowan County had a 62% decrease in the first year of the program. For the first time in several years, the percentage increase in crashes did not equal the percentage increase in vehicles registered in these counties. Criminal arrests have increased in these six counties. The reduction in fatalities and increase in criminal arrests made by the officers in this unit prove what the sheriffs believed when they initiated this program. With every small increase in visibility and enforcement, the likelihood of serious or fatal crashes decreases.

People Active in the Community - Clients served by the developmental disabilities program expressed an interest in a social program where they could meet with their peers and have fun. A committee was created to explore particular activities in which clients had expressed an interest, and decide how to include the most people in fun, safe activities. The group was named People Active in the Community and has already had several Halloween dances and Christmas parties, as well as a luau party.

Students Trying Out Peace or S.T.O.P Program - Staff at the Department of Social Services noted a trend of violence in local public schools and sought to reverse the trend through violence prevention. The S.T.O.P Program was developed for children in pre-school through 6th grades, and implemented by social workers and psychologists serving 15 elementary schools in Catawba County.The team created the S.T.O.P Program in 1999, with specific lessons designed to promote pro-social behaviors and reduce the level of aggressive behavior among participants. The curriculum was reviewed by County attorneys and other staff, then launched as a pilot project in 15 elementary schools in October 1999. High-risk students were referred to the program by teachers, principals and school counselors. The program was successful and adapted for children ages 4 and 5 in June 2001 and further expanded in 2001 to the after-school and summer school programs in the county. During the 2001-2002 school year, 100% of the children participating in the anger management and conflict-resolution portions of the S.T.O.P Program achieved desirable scores on a Children's Action Tendency Scale, an anger management test developed by Dr. Robert Deluty of the University of Maryland. 96% of the high-risk children attending the program received five or fewer disciplinary referrals during the school year. Children participating in impulse control and social skills portions of the program demonstrated a 35% increase in knowledge gained.

Medical First Response Incentive Program - In 2000-2001, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners established an aggressive goal of a four-minute response time for all emergency calls requiring medical first responders. Expansion of ambulance services by the County in recent years had accomplished a goal of eight-minute responses for full-time county paramedics and ambulance transport, but volunteer first responders were often arriving after the ambulance crew. To accomplish the Board of Commissioners’ goal, an innovative pilot project was developed and implemented with two rescue squads, the Claremont and Hickory Rescue Squads, and the Hickory Fire Department. In exchange for additional funding, $25 per day and $40 for each call responded to, the squads committed to respond with an EMT-Defibrillator (EMT-D) certified person on 90% of calls and maintain a response time of six minutes.

Twelve Most Wanted Non-Supporting Parent Poster Program - Child Support agents face the reality that some parents do everything possible to attempt to evade making child support payments. In Catawba County, agents are responsible for over 500 cases. Collection rates reveal that 65% of persons making child support are actively cooperating with agents. The remaining 35% include parents who have refused to respond to agents, and have evaded all attempts to be brought back before the court and into compliance with the existing child support court order. The “12 Most Wanted Non-Supporting Parents Poster” program was crafted to make the community aware of this serious problem.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the thirteeth consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

2001

Home Courts Apartment Program - The Home Courts Apartments were built to provide supported living for individuals who are dealing with severe and persistent mental illness. The apartments include five two-bedroom units located on several acres in an older residential neighborhood in Newton. The men and women living at the apartment receive daily support from one of two Case Managers employed by Mental Health Services. The apartments were planned, designed and built by a private group of community members and leased to the Mental Health Area Program for a renewable five year term, through a cooperative effort involving Mental Health Services and a local developer.

Defensive Driving For Teens - The Sheriff's Office created a program which uses volunteers as defensive driving instructors to teach a two-day course at Catawba Valley Community College. Teenage drivers are typically taught how to drive by a combination of parents and driving instructors in the local school systems. Funding for the program was provided, in part, through a grant from the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program to offset the cost of publishing materials and reimburse the instructors for their time. The courses were taught during weekends and times when students were not in school. No tuition was charged for the training. The County's Risk Manager, Betty Coulter, who teaches a driver safety course for County employees, provided startup assistance and helped obtain some written materials for the course. The County's EMS Manager, David Weldon, and Facility and Fleet Maintenance Manager, Tim Watson, were two of the instructors for the program.

Work And Ride - This Social Services program works with several community groups to connect donated, road worthy vehicles with low income families who need reliable transportation to seek or maintain employment. Cooperative Christian Ministries, Social Services and the members of the local Faith Community helped develop the program. The Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministries receives and stores the donated vehicles until they are awarded to a selected family. A mechanic from one of the participating churches volunteers time to check out each vehicle and insure that it is mechanically sound. A selection committee conducts a screening process on all applicants. The applicants must show financial needs, establish that transportation is a significant barrier toward their maintaining employment, have a valid North Carolina driver's license, a good driving record, and must commit to attending a budgeting and basic car repair class.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award- presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the twelfth consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the nineteenth consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award.

2000

EBT Project for the Homebound - NACo also named this entry as the "Best In Category" winner among all entries in its Human Services category from across the nation.In 1996, Congress mandated that all states begin using Electronic Benefit Transfer by October 2002 to provide Food Stamp benefits to eligible families. The project enlisted the help of volunteers and matched them with senior citizens who would be using EBT cards. Volunteers were then trained in the use of the EBT card and selected the PIN number for ‘their' elderly/disabled client. They then helped the senior citizen or disabled person they were matched with make purchases with EBT cards in a safe and secure manner. In Catawba County, 634 elderly and disabled participants received benefits in July 1998 (just prior to the implementation of EBT.) Today, more than 660 elderly and disabled recipients receive benefits.

Partnering for Citizen Protection -Preparation for potential Y2K problems led to a recognition that there was no current database that could help emergency responders with rapid identification and location of citizens who would have special medical needs in the event of power outage or disaster. Emergency Management and Social Services knew that estimating the type and number of shelters that might be needed, and preparing for the level of care that might be required could be done more efficiently if more was known about the existing needs of senior and disabled citizens in our community. To address this problem, a massive effort was undertaken to educate senior and disabled adults who attend congregate meal sites; receive home delivered meals; case management from the Community Alternative Program; homemaker and in-home aide services; and guardianship and payee ship services. Emergency Services Director Charles Moody met with Adult Care Home personnel to help them understand and prepare for emergency situations. Red Cross and Cooperative Extension speakers were invited to address congregate meal participants about common sense preparations for Y2K and winter storm emergencies. A brochure was distributed entitled "Emergency Assistance For People With Special Needs", which includes a form for persons to use to submit information to Emergency Services personnel about their special needs. Emergency information for medically fragile clients, those who receive in home aide services and nursing home level services at home through Social Services programs, was collected and shared with Emergency Services for the first time.

Computerizing CARE - Catawba County Social Services, jointly with Alexander, Burke and Caldwell County Social Services, drew on a tradition of cooperation to develop a new software program called CARE in partnership with a consulting firm, Millennium Solutions, Inc. It has standardized the way adult care home residents are evaluated in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties. The same baseline data is collected for each client and appropriate plans are triggered by that data. All Case Managers have an easily accessible selection of methods to address these plans. They are not restricted to a ‘cookbook' of interventions. A Case Manager is free to use professional judgment to add new interventions that best suit the needs of the client. A database of over 200 clients has been compiled, offering more convenient access to information about the four county caseload as a whole.

Conover Express Branch Library (Cooperative effort between the County's Library and Technology Departments and the City of Conover) - The City of Conover and Catawba County governments created a partnership to provide library service for Conover, using available space in the remodeled Conover City Hall. The City of Conover agreed to make provisions for the space, staffing, maintenance, telephone and utilities, while Catawba County agreed to provide materials, computers, furnishings and management for the new library. Conover and the County signed a contract to create the library in January 1999 and, in only fourteen weeks, the new branch was open for business. Library staff and employees from the County's Technology Department (which works with computer systems), worked quickly to get the library equipped and ready for opening. Grant funds administered by the State Library and the use of materials already owned by the Library helped reduce the costs of the project. The new 800 square foot library houses a collection of print materials, and a computer lab with twelve computers available for the public to use individually or for classes.

"Methane to Energy" Project - The closure of landfills is often accompanied by environmental and safety hazards, including methane gas. Catawba County entered into a contract with Enerdyne Power Systems/Catawba Gas/Newton Gas to extract the methane gas from the closed Newton landfill and closed portions of the Blackburn Landfill. The County avoided spending $2.5 million dollars in gas extraction infrastructure and used these savings to purchase methane gas powered engines from Jennbacher Inc. that are coupled with generators to produce electricity. The generated electrical power is being sold to Duke Energy and fed into the public power network. Over a fifteen-year period, the County expects to purchase three additional engines and generate revenue of approximately $7.1 million dollars. Between both sites, enough electricity will be generated to power approximately 4,300 homes. Most important, the revenue produced from this project will enable the County to maintain the current solid waste tipping fee for the next ten years.

A video detailing Catawba County Government services won a 2000 Award of Excellence from the National Association of County Information Officers (NACIO). The nineteen minute video gives viewers a brief overview of the County's history, followed by a look at services provided by each County department. County employees appear throughout, with some playing the roles of clients in situations where the identity of real clients should be protected. The video airs daily on Charter Communications' Government Access Channel (Channel 3).

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award- presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the eleventh consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the eighteenth consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award.

1999

"Methane to Energy" Project - The closure of landfills is often accompanied by environmental and safety hazards, including methane gas. Catawba County entered into a contract with Enerdyne Power Systems/Catawba Gas/Newton Gas to extract the methane gas from the closed Newton landfill and closed portions of the Blackburn Landfill. The County avoided spending $2.5 million dollars in gas extraction infrastructure and used these savings to purchase methane gas powered engines from Jennbacher Inc. that are coupled with generators to produce electricity. The generated electrical power is being sold to Duke Energy and fed into the public power network. Over a fifteen-year period, the County expects to purchase three additional engines and generate revenue of approximately $7.1 million dollars. Between both sites, enough electricity will be generated to power approximately 4,300 homes. Most important, the revenue produced from this project will enable the County to maintain the current solid waste tipping fee for the next ten years.

N.C. Live Statewide Electronic Library Project - N.C. LIVE offers Internet users access to a virtual research library. The project was funded by the State of North Carolina in 1998, but its implementation depended upon the participation of individual library systems. In Catawba County, three departments teamed up to provide customers of the County Library system with 21 computers linked to NC LIVE in only ten working days. This was accomplished at no cost to taxpayers.

Conflict Resolution Center -The Sheriff's Department helped the center open in 1998 to help resolve disputes between neighbors, relatives and others, and settle more serious disputes which might end up in civil or criminal courts. The center coordinates voluntary mediation between disputing parties, facilitated by a trained mediator who volunteers his or her time to this program.

Catawba County Department of Social Services' "Quick Care" Program -Quick Care is a unique program made available to families applying for or receiving welfare assistance. Families with an immediate need for child care are given same day service. No appointment is necessary. Child care arrangements for all children are made "on the spot" to ensure parents can get and keep a job. Work First worked to convince the State of North Carolina to allow a change in the income verification procedures required for child care. These verifications used to take up to 30 days and might have cost many people a chance to get a new job. Recipients are now given a child care voucher based on their declaration of income and given ten days to provide verification of their income. If they fail to provide verification or their income exceeds allowable limits, all child care assistance is terminated.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award - presented to the Budget Office for development of an easily understood budget document which can be used by other governmental units or the average citizen. This is the tenth consecutive year in which the Budget Office has won the award, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting - presented to the Finance Office for creation of an easily readable and understandable comprehensive annual financial report covering all funds and financial transactions during the fiscal year. This is the seventeenth consecutive year in which the Finance Office has won the award.