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July 14, 2021 – El Paso County Commissioners and staff were in Washington D.C. for the National Association of Counties (NACo) Conference this week. Part of the conference festivities included an awards ceremony on July 11 for the 2021 NACo Achievement Awards, where El Paso County took home awards in four different categories. The following programs were named winners at the National Conference:

  • Response, Recovery, Resiliency: El Paso County Regional Business Relief Fund
    • Department Recognized: El Paso County Economic Development
    • Program Description: “The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented economic disruption that massively impacted communities across the nation, including the small businesses and nonprofits of El Paso County. In response to the devastating effects COVID-19 had on our small businesses and nonprofits, El Paso County’s Economic Development Department, in coordination with County leadership and local economic development partners, launched the El Paso County Regional Business Relief Fund. Through the El Paso County Regional Business Relief Fund, El Paso County’s Economic Development Department led the distribution of grant awards totaling $13,858,528 to 864 small businesses and nonprofits throughout the El Paso County community, with 56% of awardees self-identifying as being minority-, women-, and/or veteran-owned small businesses and nonprofits. While this program was created to give small businesses and nonprofits direct and immediate relief to help support operations, sustain their workforce, and recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19, the program also served to showcase how community partnerships and collaboration play a significant role in unifying a community – even in the midst of a pandemic. Small businesses and nonprofits are not only critical to the vitality and economic stability of our nation, but they also make up the heartbeat and character of our communities. We are stronger together!”

  • Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP)
    • Department Recognized: El Paso County Public Works
    • Program Description: “Working together on the Westside Avenue Action Plan (also called the WAAP), five agencies changed a community where no one agency could have accomplished it alone. The WAAP project provided a complete streets roadway section accommodating all modes of travel, realigned 1,000 feet of Fountain Creek under a new bridge passing the 100-year flood, provided all underground utilities, water quality, ADA accommodations, and multimodal facilities of a 1.5-mile often forgotten corridor. By working together to invest in transportation infrastructure, the once named “No-Man’s Land” has a new moniker named after a historic general and historic intersection. The new moniker “Adams Crossing” is a new place with increasing private investment resulting in the project goal of economic vitality. With most normal projects, there are defined goals set for schedule and budget. The Westside Avenue Action Plan was no normal project; the challenges were so great it required a community commitment to see the project through its completion while navigating all the difficulties and unknowns associated with working in a historic corridor. The result will pay dividends for generations to come.”

  • Children Youth and Family Services 0-3 Program
    • Department Recognized: El Paso County Human Services
    • Program Description: “El Paso County Department of Human Services developed the 0-3 Program to streamline improved services and support to some of the most vulnerable children and their families. The program is focused on Specialized 0-3 Child Welfare Teams and a partnership with a local health provider, which includes the regional Public Health entity, private provider, or community health clinic. The caseworkers on the 0-3 Child Welfare Teams receive focused training such as certified addictions counseling, recognizing failure to thrive and child development. Nurse practitioners accompany caseworkers on home visits to provide a medical perspective and medical care to children. The Well Baby Court, part of the regional judicial system, is an additional support for the 0-3 Program. The specialized court provides specialized services for families of young children who are involved with DHS and the Dependency and Neglect process. The 0-3 Program provides a comprehensive approach for families in dependency and neglect cases, leading to increased support and wrap-around services. The nurse practitioner offers medical guidance, and connects the family to medical care, that in the past may have resulted in missed appointments.”

  • Teen Advisory Board: Amplifying Youth Voice in the Community
    • Department Recognized: El Paso County Public Health
    • Program Description: “The Teen Action Board (TAB) operates as a community-based board in the Fountain Valley area of El Paso County. Fountain Valley is a diverse community located in Southeastern El Paso County, and includes the City of Fountain, Ft. Carson, Security and Widefield. The TAB is comprised of facilitators employed by El Paso County Health who work side-by-side with local youth representatives to address the issue of youth substance abuse. The overarching goal of the Teen Action Board is to engage local youth in strategic planning, and most importantly action, to address the rise in youth substance behavior in Fountain Valley. Members of the TAB work collectively to identify and understand the root causes underlying youth risk behavior related to substance abuse. Understanding connectedness is a positive factor, the Teen Action Board is designed to foster healthy relationships between adult mentors in the community, EPCPH facilitators and other community members as they work collectively to address the issue. The program is designed to engage local teens in the effort, provide skills in facilitation and leadership, and ensure they realize they have a powerful voice within their community. Outcomes are measured through participation, engagement, and leadership activities.”

El Paso County leadership is so proud of each of these outstanding programs. Congratulations to all our local winners for being recognized on a national scale and for your continued dedicated service to our community.