Hello, Hamilton County

  E-News for Hamilton County Citizens and Employees

January 23, 2002  

  Quote of the Week:  "Believe in life! Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader and fuller life."    - W. E. B. Du Bois, last message to the world, 1957

Compass Meeting Attracts 1,300 Residents focused on the future of Hamilton County

On Saturday, January 12, 2002, a historic event occurred when 1300 Hamilton County residents came together to form and evaluate a vision for the future of their community. The first ever Countywide Town Meeting was the largest gathering of its type in which residents from across Hamilton County came together to plan for the county’s future. The meeting was the next stage in developing a comprehensive plan for Hamilton County, the first such plan in over 30 years.
Over 1300 people packed the Music Hall Ballroom to share ideas and prioritize goals for the future of Hamilton County.
After opening remarks from Hamilton County Commissioners Tom Neyer, Jr. and Todd Portune, Cincinnati Vice Mayor Alicia Reece and Ron Miller, executive director of the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, meeting participants began using wireless keypads and laptop computers to learn about each other and begin discussing and addressing some of the most challenging issues facing Hamilton County.

To get used to the wireless technology, participants were polled about their chili preferences. When asked how they prefer to eat their chili, 33 percent of the participants prefer the chili, spaghetti and cheese combo of the 3-way. 4-ways and 5-ways rounded out the top three preferences with 17 percent and 19 percent, respectfully.

Participants then entered their demographic information. The group assembled was highly representative of the profile of Hamilton County in the 2000 census.

“Thirteen hundred people have come forward to help create the vision for the county. With this foundation of support, we are confident that we can implement their vision,” said Miller.


After lunch, participants began discussing four core issues hindering Hamilton County’s success and progress. These issues were identified this past fall during a series of 12 public forums held throughout the county and attended by over 600 residents. The four core issues were:


Assuring economic prosperity


Building collaborative decision-making


Embracing diversity and equity


Balancing development and the environment



Among the meeting’s instantaneous polling outcomes around these core issues:


In regards to balancing development and environmental issues, twenty-four percent of participants believe the biggest challenge facing Hamilton County is the resistance to change by vested interests


Fifty-five percent of participants are confident that they can influence the future of Hamilton County


Seventy-six percent of participants are committed to remaining involved in the comprehensive planning process

When discussing the core issue of collaboration, participants were asked to discuss how citizens can better participate in their community’s or county’s decision-making. The top ideas that emerged included:


Town halls meetings


Use of e-mail and the internet including web based forums


A questionnaire distributed with tax statements


Reinstating block clubs

Key themes that emerged from the groups discussions related to ensuring the county’s economic prosperity:


Use of economic incentives to retain and attract businesses


Establish a strong linkage between all levels of education and workforce needs


Connect people to jobs via transportation

Key themes that emerged from the groups discussions related to embracing diversity and equity:


Increase accessibility for people with disabilities


Address economic issues such as income disparities


Address social justice issues like racial and ethnic profiling

“Everyone in this county should be proud of the turnout today and what was accomplished. Hamilton County has set a new standard for ensuring that the citizen voice will influence the future of the county,” said Carolyn Lukensmeyer, moderator of the Countywide Town Meeting and executive director of AmericaSpeaks, an organization that conducts high-tech town meetings across the country.

COMPASS action teams (CATs) will be formed around the four key issues discussed today and will move the comprehensive planning effort forward to the next stages. The CATs will meet in the coming months to identify potential solutions to the issues identified and discussed today and will report their findings to the public in August.

Click here to find out more about the next step - COMPASS Action Teams


County Blood Drive set for February 11th

In the wake of the September 11th tragedy, numerous requests were received from people throughout the County organization for a blood drive.  The annual drive typically takes place in May or June.  Hoxworth Blood Center was contact immediately. Due to the high demand, Hoxworth was not able to schedule the drive until February.  The blood drive will be February 11th at the 800 Broadway building on the 16th floor from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The County's annual blood drive will still take place in May or June and will include multiple locations.

The following facts may help you as you consider giving blood:

bulletOne in four of us will be the recipient of a blood transfusion in our lifetime.
bulletThe Hoxworth Blood Center serves 1.8 million people, and is the sole supplier of blood to 25 hospitals in 14 counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.
bulletLocally, we need 350 individuals to step up and donate each day in order to maintain an adequate blood supply.
bulletDespite the increasing need for donors, Greater Cincinnati and the nation struggle with the reality that only 5% of the population donates blood.
bulletDonating blood is safe and easy - it is absolutely impossible to contract AIDS or any other infectious disease from donating blood.
bulletYou get FREE juice and snacks afterwards!

The need for blood continues to increase as technology and services provided by area hospitals demand it. Unfortunately, blood donations are still not keeping pace with blood usage. That is why it is so important that healthy individuals donate blood regularly to insure that there will always be an adequate blood supply for those in need.  Take a few minutes to give a gift that could save a life!

To sign up for an appointment contact Kim Pennekamp in Personnel at 946-4705.


New S.T.A.R. Program will recognize service milestones
We all need to feel that what we do matters and that our contributions are recognized and appreciated.  Recognition is a critical part of the relationship between employees and their employer.  Initiated by County Commissioners and County Administrator David Krings, the S.T.A.R. (Service Time Achievement Recognition) Program was created to formally recognize and reward Board of County Commissioner employees who have rendered long and valuable years of service to Hamilton County, as well as the good work that they’ve done during those years.  
County Commissioners have initiated a program that recognizes employee's years of service.
Effective January 1, 2002, employees who complete milestone anniversaries of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service will be awarded a beautiful lapel pin and a thank you letter in honor of their achievements during the years leading up to the milestone.  (Current employees will be retroactively recognized for their years of service.)   Employees achieving a service time milestone of 25 or more years of service will be formally recognized at a Board of County Commissioners meeting.

The S.T.A.R. Program has been received with enthusiasm by Department Heads, and feedback has been extremely positive.  In fact, other Hamilton County agencies, not under the Board of County Commissioners, have been invited to participate in the S.T.A.R. Program.  So far, additional participating agencies include Juvenile Court, Probate Court, and the ADAS (Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services) Board.

Employee recognition fosters pride, and motivates and encourages us to continue our growth and development.  The S.T.A.R. Program is just one way of thanking employees for their loyalty, dedication and outstanding service to Hamilton County.


Burke shares vision in meetings with JFS Staff

New Job and Family Services Director Suzanne Burke recently conducted a series of meetings with employees to introduce herself and share her vision for the department.

Hamilton County Depatment of Job and Family Services (HCJFS) employees learned about new Agency Director Suzanne Burke's vision, expectations, management sytem and the like in a series of jam-packed town meetings January 8-11.  Burke unveiled her vision in the meetings:

That a majority of the staff, the majority of the time, wakes up excited to come to work to deliver services to the community.  You are excited and energized about doing this because:

bulletYou know you are valued 
bulletYour opinion is sought and respected
bulletYou are informed
bulletYou are committed to providing the highest level of service you can provide in an enthusiastic and professional manner
bulletYou act like adults because you are treated like adults 
bulletYou are entrusted to determine how to complete you work assignments
bulletYou are accountable for your actions and work product
bulletYou consistently achieve the highest performance standards
bulletYou make decision that are in the best interest of the department and the county as opposed to those that are in your own best interest

As a result of your superior performance and enthusiasm, we have clients who:

bulletReceive quality, prompt and courteous services 
bulletIncrease their opportunities for self-sufficiency and no longer need our services!
bulletAre satisfied with our performance and their services

As a result of staff efforts and interaction with clients, HCJFS have a community image that:

bulletWe are successful and professional at all times
bulletWe are the best in the state

When asked if they supported the vision, the employees responded with and enthusiastic "yes".  Many expressed willingness to strive to achieve that lofty vision.



MSD recognized for change to safer treatment technique

The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati's (MSD) Mill Creek Water Reclamation Facility recently received an award for Best Risk Reduction from the Alliance for Chemical Safety.  "We are very proud of this award and even more so, thrilled that we could find a safer way to treat our wastewater,” said MSD Director Pat Karney. 

Effective October 12, 2001, the Mill Creek Water Reclamation Facility implemented the use of Sodium Hypochlorite as a replacement for gaseous chlorine to disinfect the facility’s effluent to the Ohio River.

Since the construction of the Mill Creek facility in 1959, chlorine gas was used as a disinfecting agent for the effluent. Chlorine was delivered to the site and used directly from the railcar. The onsite quantities were typically 55-ton railcars, but could accommodate as many as two 90-ton railcars at a time.  Sodium Hypochlorite, a strong bleach-type solution, is temporarily stored in a 5500-gallon tanker.  A future capital improvement project will include permanent storage facilities for up to 12,000 gallons.

Presented with the challenge on October 2, 2001 to rapidly implement this process change, MSD’s operations and engineering staff swiftly designed, acquired, installed, and tested the equipment. The new system was started ten days later on October 12, nearly halving the twenty-day target. The last railcar was emptied on October 23, and removed from the site shortly after.

Under the U. S. EPA Risk Management Plan (RMP) program, the Mill Creek facility had to identify the impact from a theoretical “worst-case scenario."  The scenario defined for this facility was a ten-minute catastrophic offsite release of the entire contents of a 90-ton chlorine railcar.  Reducing toxic chemicals below the RMP applicability threshold allows the facility to de-register from the program.

By reducing the potential public impact from chlorine use was lessened from a 28-mile diameter affected area to “zero,” effectively eliminating all potential chlorine exposures to an estimated 860,000 citizens and visitors to the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana tri-state region which includes Greater Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  The potential for an offsite release of Sodium Hypochlorite is non-existent.


Help Hamilton County Show its stuff:  National Awards Applications being accepted
The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of County Information Officers (NACIO) have announced their annual awards programs.  Deadlines are coming up and you are asked to think you have programs that have been particularly effective in helping the citizens of Hamilton County. 

The NACo Achievement Awards recognizes innovative county governments programs. The programs nominated should  meet at least on of the following criteria: offer new services, improve/enhance the delivery of existing services, upgrade the working conditions or skills of county employees, enhance the level of citizen participation in or understanding of county government, provide information that facilitates effective public policy making, or that promotes intergovernmental cooperation.  The deadline for the NACo Achievement Awards is mid-February and should be routed through the Board of County Commissioners by February 8.  Last year, Hamilton County won four NACo Acheivement Awards.

The NACIO Awards of Excellence recognize outstanding efforts by counties in providing public information and fostering effective communication with citizens. The awards recognize all forms of communications including written, electronic media and computer-based media.  The deadline for the NACIO Awards of Excellence is early March and should be routed through the County Administrator's Office by February 25.  Last year, Hamilton County won three NACIO Awards of Excellence.

Think about and give it a shot! You, a co-worker or your department may deserve some national recognition for the service you provide.  Contact Eric Stuckey (phone: 946-4432 or e-mail: Eric.Stuckey@Hamilton-Co.org)  in the County Administrator's Office, if you have any questions.



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Hello, Hamilton County is published twice each month.  It is placed on both the County's internal and external Web pages.  It is design to enlighten and inform both citizens and employees of Hamilton County.  If you have questions or suggestions for future editions, contact Erica Binford (946-4324), Sharon Booker (946-4428) or Eric Stuckey (946-4432) in the County Administrator's Office or e-mail to eric.stuckey@hamilton-co.org.