COUNTY OF LOUISA PRESS RELEASE
Willie L. Harper, Chairman, Louisa County Board of Supervisors
Robert C. Dubé, County Administrator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2012
For the third consecutive year, a Louisa County program has won a VACo achievement award. This year, Louisa County was awarded "best achievement" for the program implemented by Parks and Recreation and the Louisa County Public Schools after the August 2011 earthquake. Of the 37 total entries received by VACo this year, Louisa County feels privileged to have been chosen to receive this honorable award for a local program.
VACo received 37 entries. Tedd Povar, associate director of the Virginia Institute of Government; Marilyn Blake, retired Hanover County assistant county administrator; and William Quarles, former Goochland County supervisor, served as judges for this year's statewide competitive awards program.
"It always amazes me the level of competition for Achievement Awards," said James Campbell, VACo executive director. "This year is no exception. Competition is fierce. All 37 entries are deserving but only the best will receive an award. I'm grateful we have outstanding judges because the task to pick winners is not an easy one."
The judges selected Louisa County as the "Best Achievement." "I congratulate and commend Louisa County and its excellent program," Quarles said. "Louisa County experienced devastating effects from an earthquake last year. Its only high school was destroyed. Despite that, the county found a way to continue the education of its students and while doing so, it also uplifted the spirit of the community. Louisa County is truly deserving of the Best Achievement Award."
When the earthquake hit Louisa County on August 23, 2011 it damaged the only high school in the county so badly that it was deemed unusable. Rather than cancel school for the year, county officials decided to use the county's one middle school for both middle school and high school, alternating the days of the week students attended school. To address parents concern about supervision for their middle school students on the days they were not in school, and also to give teachers the working hours needed to fulfill their contracts, the parks and recreation department partnered with the county schools to create the Teen Quest Special program. The middle school students would come to the Betty Queen Center, a Parks and Recreation facility with a gym, cafeteria and multiple classrooms on days that the high school was in session for a variety of supervised activities that included physical activity, study time, computer and game time and free time. The school system provided teachers for supervision, transportation to the program and free breakfast and lunch for all participants. The program was up and running within three weeks of the disaster, and continued for approximately five months, until the new mobile high school was established. The program helped to establish a much more cooperative relationship between the school system and parks and recreation department, inspired a good use of resources (including federal grants) and gave the County the opportunity to provided needed services to the community during a very disruptive time for many of our residents.
Blake, who served as judge in 2010, also raved about the quality of the entries. "As judges, we appreciate the time counties invest to prepare and submit award nominations," Blake said. "Many of these submissions required hours of detailed preparation to fully describe the project and its surrounding context. Counties understand it's important to be recognized for superior work, but it's even more vital to share innovative ideas and programs with each other. The Achievement Awards program allows counties and the public to view the creative work that's happening today in local government."
The VACo Achievement Awards is a competitive program open to local government members of the association. For more information, visit VACo's Achievement Awards website (www.vaco.org/achievementawards.html) where you can view all 2012 entries (www.vaco.org/achievementawards2012.html).
Representatives from each of the award-winning counties will receive a certificate at an official ceremony during VACo's 2012 Annual Conference in November. Also, VACo will present awards at Board of Supervisors meetings.