The County Voice

On the Road to Honor Innovative County Programs

Yesterday, CSAC staff began hitting the road to kick off our annual Challenge Awards presentations to Boards of Supervisors. Each year, we recognize the individuals who created and implemented innovative county programs by presenting them with a Challenge Award in their home counties – before their county supervisors, peers, public and local media.

While I had the honor of presenting to the San Benito County board at their Tuesday meeting, our Interim Executive Director Steve Keil was in Los Angeles County, and staff members Cara Martinson and Kiana Buss were before the board in Sonoma County.

Our presentations will continue over the next six weeks. In two weeks, CSAC staff will be in Glenn, Orange and San Joaquin counties, followed by Sacramento and San Bernardino.

CSAC created the Challenge Awards to honor and recognize innovation in county government. Since the mid-1990s, the program has grown in popularity and we are truly able to spotlight the creativity and leadership demonstrated each day by our counties.

At a time when our counties are facing unprecedented demands for service, as well as monumental fiscal constraints, the innovation, determination and hard work found throughout California’s counties is critical to continue serving our 38 million residents.

The programs being honored and recognized this year run the gamut. Those honored yesterday are a microcosm of the committed and creative work being accomplished in our counties. In Sonoma, we were honoring a county energy project that saves significant money while reducing greenhouse gases; in San Benito County, it was a collaborative project between Probation, the County Library and the Courts; and in Los Angeles, it was for a number of programs, ranging from one that cuts the costs of pharmaceutical drugs to another aimed at reducing welfare fraud.

While speaking to her board yesterday as part of the CSAC Challenge Award presentation, San Benito County Librarian Nora Conte summed it up best when she passionately discussed the “magical moments” the honored program has created.  These magical moments, taking different shapes and forms, can be found throughout the state in counties of all sizes.

Once again, California counties are meeting the challenge – and making a difference.

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