New Hanover County wins 10 awards at national conference

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New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Beth Dawson and Commissioner Rob Zapple at the 2016 NaCO conference in Long Beach, CA. Photo courtesy of Beth Dawson.
New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Beth Dawson and Commissioner Rob Zapple at the 2016 NACo conference in Long Beach, CA. Photo courtesy of Beth Dawson.

A family support fatherhood initiative. A smoke alarm and fire prevention program for the deaf and hard of hearing. The maintenance of the Carolina Beach inlet.

These are some of the 10 diverse New Hanover County programs that received awards from a national organization this  past weekend.

The recognition comes from the National Association of Counties Achievement Awards Program for innovative practices and programs, which pinpoints successful endeavors and distinguishes them as best practices for other organizations around the country to emulate.

“We are very proud of our county achievement awards,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Beth Dawson, who along with Commissioner Rob Zapple attended the NACo conference this past weekend in Long Beach, California. “Different departments within the county have presented different initiatives that are working well.”

The New Hanover County Public Library, the information technology department, the fire rescue program, the engineering department, the planning and inspections department, and environmental management all won one award. Two programs each from community justice services and the department of social services were recognized.

“What was impressive, I think, to everybody, was … how deep our bench is – how many different departments within our county government were honored at the awards ceremony,” Zapple said. “I think it says a lot about our overall county, and certainly an enormous amount about the individuals that head up those departments and the county employees that work for them.”

One of community battery recycling points, located at the main New Hanover County Library in downtown Wilmington. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
One of community battery recycling points, located at the main New Hanover County Library in downtown Wilmington. (Photo by Hannah Leyva)

One of the recognized initiatives, a community battery recycling program, is run by the county’s environmental management department in partnership with local institutions such as the county public library system, Cape Fear Community College, the University of North Carolina – Wilmington and the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. These locations serve as collection points for old batteries, which, due to the chemicals involved, can damage the environment if not disposed of properly.

According to the county, over 7,600 pounds of batteries have been diverted away from the county landfill since the program started in 2013, and the levels of zinc in the landfill’s wastewater have been greatly reduced.

To learn more about the battery recycling program and the nine others that won national awards, visit New Hanover County’s YouTube site, where short videos have been made on each initiative.