Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 17

Census Bureau estimates show the county's population already tops 212,000. With more people comes more traffic, and, like many other counties in Georgia, Forsyth feels these effects on major roadways. Facing a growing population, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) projects in need of completion, a proposed transportation SPLOST (T-SPLOST) that failed to pass and an interest in accelerating the timeline for Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) projects within Forsyth, the county's Board of Commissioners came together several years ago to research solutions. After deliberation, the board decided to pursue a transportation bond to finance projects to relieve congestion, shorten commute times and encourage commercial development. In the November 2014 general election, 63 percent of Forsyth County voters expressed their support for the bond referendum. Of the $200 million bond, $81 million was proposed for projects in partnership with GDOT, leveraging state and federal funding, with the remaining $119 million earmarked for county projects. One of the most highly anticipated partnership projects made possible by the bond is the widening of State Route 400 from McFarland Parkway to Highway 369, adding one lane in each direction along a 13-mile stretch. Construction began in November 2015, and though a major accomplishment, this is only the first of many. Proposed county projects include new roads, major road widenings and traffic safety improvements. Among these are upgrades that were partially funded in previous SPLOST programs and will now be provided with a muchneeded funding mechanism for completion. Reflecting on the factors that led to the bond package, Forsyth County Manager Doug Derrer attributes much credit to collaboration. Says Derrer, "The Board of Commissioners did a remarkable job of working together- and with our local delegation, Georgia Department of Transportation and stakeholders - to address an issue of great importance to the community. The project was closely managed, with the necessary time and energy invested to engage our citizens, and ultimately deliver results." Lowndes County: Health and Human Services In 2012, Lowndes County needed a change. The south Georgia county, whose citizens have historically experienced elevated rates of obesity and hypertension, was challenged by a steep rising trend in county health plan costs fueled in part by expensive emergency room visits and hospitalizations-the outcome of many years of employees neglecting to maintain their health. Every day, leaders like County Manager Joe Pritchard saw, firsthand, employees suffering from not feeling well and needing to take time off work to recover from preventable illnesses. When Pritchard and others decided to tackle the problem head-on, developing an innovative health and wellness program and offering employees time at work to engage with its resources, Serve Well Lowndes was born. The Serve Well name is appropriate, signifying the desire on the part of Lowndes leadership for county employees to be healthy and happy while serving citizens to the best of their abilities. "To the best of their abilities" has in fact been a key guiding tenet for the program from the start. Unlike wellness initiatives that seek to motivate people to reach target body mass indices or other generic health benchmarks, the goal of the Serve Well Lowndes program is to create a culture of wellness that ultimately empowers employees to be their own personal best, whatever that might be. "Lowndes County's program is not about tacking employee statistics to a grid based on age and gender," said Lowndes County Clerk Paige Dukes. "It's about helping employees discover what the condition of their overall health is and move forward with an individual plan that is practical, measurable and achievable. They're only compared to themselves." After receiving a baseline biometric screening and personalized health risk assessment, participating employees enjoy quarterly, weekly and even daily opportunities to receive focused wellness education, coaching and health reminders. To provide these, the program leverages local health-related resources that are often low-cost or even free to the county. Now in its fourth plan year, Serve Well Lowndes counts more than 75 percent of county employees as participants, with plans to grow. We see this program branding our community," said Dukes. Lowndes County doesn't intend to reserve the program and its benefits to Lowndes employees only. The program was designed to serve as a template, easily adopted locally by large organizations and even other Georgia county governments. To request more information about the Serve Well Lowndes model, contact Paige Dukes at pdukes@lowndescounty. com or 229-671-2400. Newton County and Henry County: Public Safety and the Courts As public safety officers respond to emergency calls throughout the nation, their actions are today coming under greater scrutiny than ever before. With the proactive goal of increasing transparency and encouraging ethics among its officers, Newton County's Sheriff's Office applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a body-worn camera program. The office was one of just 73 law enforcement agencies nationally and three in Georgia selected last year to receive the federal grants, which total $23.2 million to be allocated to purchasing cameras, providing training and technical assistance and evaluating impact. Newton County, which plans to roll the equipment out in phases to different divisions, has made open communication a key element of the program from the start. Community stakeholders and civic organizations are playing an important role in helping to educate citizens and offer ongoing feedback. Research has found numerous benefits associated with implementing a body-worn camera program, in which small cameras mounted on on-duty officers' sunglasses, hats, helmets or lapels capture incidents on video as they unfold. These include strengthening officers' accountability, deterring misconduct and false accusations and providing courts with hard evidence to supplement witness and victim statements. In the current controversial climate, the most important benefit of all may be maintaining citizens' SUMMER 2016 www.accg.org 17 http://www.accg.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Summer 2016

President’s Message
Director’s Desk
Cover Story: Growth and Opportunity in Elbert County
Georgia Counties Get Results in ACCG’s Policy Areas
Insights from Georgia’s Congressman Lynn Westmoreland
Making Strides for Healthy Communities
Preparing for the Zika Virus in Georgia
Georgia Public Libraries Shine
Counties Emerge into the Digital Age
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - cover1
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - cover2
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 3
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 4
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 5
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 6
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 7
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - President’s Message
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Director’s Desk
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Cover Story: Growth and Opportunity in Elbert County
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 11
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 12
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 13
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 14
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 15
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Georgia Counties Get Results in ACCG’s Policy Areas
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 17
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 18
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 19
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Insights from Georgia’s Congressman Lynn Westmoreland
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 21
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Making Strides for Healthy Communities
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 23
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 24
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 25
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Preparing for the Zika Virus in Georgia
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 27
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Georgia Public Libraries Shine
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 29
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 30
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 31
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Counties Emerge into the Digital Age
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 33
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 34
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 35
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - 36
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - News & Notes
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - cover3
Georgia County Government - Summer 2016 - cover4
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