Modified: June 17, 2022 12:48pm
Five Erie County programs and initiatives have been recognized by the National Association of Counties (“NACo”) with 2022 Achievement Awards, presented to counties and state associations nationwide in recognition of innovative county government programs across eighteen categories that strengthen services for residents. Erie County’s 2022 award-winning programs earned recognition in the categories of Health, County Resiliency, Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Parks and Recreation, and Libraries.
“Earning a NACo Achievement Award is national recognition of the value and importance of the programs we provide to our residents, and being honored with five of them across five different categories underscores the many ways that we are building a better county,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “I thank our county team for their work in creating new opportunities and bringing residents together across Erie County.”
The following 2022 Achievement Awards were received by Erie County departments and programs:
In the Health category, the Erie County Healthcare Careers (“ECHC”) program administered by the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board (“BECWIB”). BECWIB’s ECHC program focuses on healthcare career training that leads to more sustainable wages long-term for positions such as LPN, RN, physical therapy assistant, and more. While in training, participants can receive supports in the form of childcare, travel allowances and other supports that assist them in completing training and moving up the wage scale.
In the County Resiliency category, Erie County’s Climate Action & Sustainability Plan (“CASP”) for Internal Operations received an award. Adopted in early 2019, the CASP outlines initiatives designed to reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and includes GHG emission reduction goals for short-, mid-, and long-term timeframes. In the most recent CASP report, the GHG inventory data revealed that the County had exceeded its GHG emission reduction goal for 2020. Moreover, the implementation of the CASP has resulted in significant cost savings and has helped Erie County to leverage grant funding.
In the category of Parks and Recreation, the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry earned recognition for their “Pints in the Park” program. While the COVID-19 pandemic caused a surge in Park attendance it also struck local businesses hard, so the Parks department partnered with three local breweries to pilot this very successful program. To date, thousands of county residents have enjoyed a pint in our Parks through this successful partnership.
In the Libraries category, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library’s free “Library by Mail,” a program that provides library materials to homebound patrons, earned an Achievement Award. Launched at the end of 2020, the program’s initial goal was to provide this service to 50 patrons; however, within the last year and a half demand for this program has grown and there are now 200 individuals participating and borrowing materials. Any Erie County, NY resident who meets the predetermined homebound criteria is eligible to participate. Library staff connect with each patron to learn their interests to ensure ideal reading/listening material selection. Library materials are mailed with a checkout period of six weeks and can be returned in a postage-paid mailer.
The Geographically Expanded Release Under Supervision (RUS) Program, an initiative of the Erie County Probation Department to broaden the footprint of the RUS program through collaboration with underutilized local courts, earned an Achievement Award in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety category. The RUS program has been available to all Erie County courts for decades to supervise released defendants and help ensure their return for future court appearances, but use by local suburban courts was historically minimal. With the emphasis on geographically expanded RUS, cases from outside the City of Buffalo went from an average of ten cases per year from 2017-2019 to 284 and 269 in 2020 and 2021, respectively. This significant increase in cases also led to a greater percentage of total RUS cases derived from the emphasized geographic expansion areas, as it went from 2-3% between 2017-2019 to 54% and 47% in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
For more information:
On the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry visit https://www3.erie.gov/parks/
On the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, visit https://www.buffalolib.org/