RICHMOND (August 3, 2023)—The Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) is pleased to announce the 33 recipients of the 2023 Achievement Awards, which recognize excellence in local government programs. VACo received 135 submissions.
Winning entries focused on addressing issues of addiction, education, and revitalization, as well as finding solutions to other challenges that counties face daily.
“I want to thank all who participated in the 21st year of the Achievement Awards,” VACo Executive Director Dean Lynch said. “I’m encouraged to see that we received 135 submissions, our highest total ever. This tells me that the VACo Achievement Awards’ mission of identifying and celebrating the innovative work by local government officials continues to resonate with our counties. We thank all who participated and give special recognition those who won an award.”
Charles Hartgrove, ICMA-CM, Director of the Virginia Institute of Government; Dr. Sheryl Bailey, Visiting Professor of Practice at Virginia Tech, and former Chesterfield County Deputy County Administrator; and Larry Land, retired VACo Director of Policy Development, served as judges for this year’s statewide competitive awards program.
Alleghany County and its Alleghany/Covington School Consolidation program won this year’s Best Achievement Award.
“What Alleghany County achieved is historic – a feat that has been accomplished only three times in the Commonwealth since 1982,” Dr. Bailey said. “It took Alleghany County more than 50 years of conversation to complete the merger of the new Alleghany Highlands Public Schools. But Alleghany County got it done, and in its first year of operations saved more than $450,000 in personnel costs without any involuntary layoffs. The consolidation assisted county leaders to navigate the nationwide teacher shortage. This Best Achievement Award program deserves a ‘Go Alleghany Cougars!’”
The judges also selected a Best Small County Achievement Award (50,000 or less population) and a Best Large County Achievement Award. Dinwiddie County and its City Planning Project program captured the Best Small County Achievement Award while Chesterfield County and its Chesterfield Recovery Academy program earned the Best Large County Achievement Award.
Hartgrove, who served his first year as judge, said Dinwiddie County’s winning program reflects an important criterion for the VACo Achievement Awards. “We are inspired by innovative programs that connect students with local governments,” Hartgrove said. “We think it’s important for the future of local government to show the youth that serving at the local level can be a rewarding and successful career choice. This program is designed to spark a student’s interest in planning or local government administration. Congratulations to Dinwiddie County for designing such an impactful program.”
Land praised Chesterfield County for being a leader in the Achievement Awards program. “Chesterfield County again has developed a program that sets itself apart,” Land said. “The Chesterfield Recovery Academy is the first recovery school in the state, and is a multi-community effort that can be replicated by other counties to help fight against adolescent addiction. Thank you, Chesterfield County, for creating an environment of support for families and those struggling with addiction.”
Chesterfield County tops the all-time Achievement Awards list with 49. Chesterfield County has won an award in each year of the 21-year history of the program. Henrico County is second on the list with 42 Achievement Awards while Loudoun County is third with 30.
The VACo Achievement Awards is a competitive program open to local government members of the association.