NACo South Region Update
By Commissioner Joe Bryan
Wake County, N.C.
On Jan. 9, I spent a day touring NACo headquarters in Washington, D.C. I was accompanied by David F. Thompson, the executive director of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, and Lisa Nolen, who is our Outreach Coordinator. We met with many staff and department heads and received a briefing of the various services NACo provides to the nation’s counties. It was a wonderful trip, and I strongly urge you to visit with your NACo staff if you get the opportunity.
NACo’s staff is divided into seven departments, and each department has specific responsibilities and an experienced, talented staff that represent, assist and promote counties. The departments are: county services, executive management, finance and administration, financial services corporation, information technology, legislative affairs and public affairs. NACo staff members enjoy working with commissioners from around the nation, so if you have any questions about federal legislation or other issues, please make sure to call your NACo staff. They will be more than happy to lend a hand.
If you are not familiar with NACo’s Web site (www.naco.org), you should spend some time touring it. There is an abundance of information on the site, and it’s easy to navigate. There are databases for best practices in all sorts of areas of county government, research papers on hot button issues, and winning entries from their many awards programs. I am sure you will find some piece of information that will prove beneficial to your county.
For those of you who will be in Washington, D.C., in early March for the legislative conference, please note that the South Region will meet from 4 -5 p.m. Sunday, March 4 in Georgetown West, which is on the Concourse Level. If you have any issues that you would like to discuss during this meeting, please let me know and I will add them to the agenda.
Don’t forget that National County Government Month (NCGM) is coming up in April. The celebration is designed to raise public awareness and understanding about the roles and responsibilities of county government. The 2012 theme is "Healthy Counties, Healthy Families." There are many ways to participate in the celebration — such as tours of county facilities, recognition ceremonies for county employees and volunteers, distribution of information about county programs and services, sponsoring student essay contests, meetings with business and community leaders, and adoption of resolutions. Make sure that your county participates in this year’s celebration, and then enter the National County Government Month awards program, NACo’s newest competition.
As I promised in our last newsletter, I wanted to update you about my attempt to run a marathon, which fits perfectly with NACo President Lenny Eliason’s Healthy Counties initiative. In November, I participated in the SunTrust Richmond Marathon, which bills itself as America’s Friendliest Marathon. I finished the 26.2 mile course in 4:56.39 and ran the entire course, other than slowing down for the water stations.
The marathon experience was awesome. The cool weather was perfect. The fall leaves were in their full brilliance, the James River was very scenic, and the historic homes along the route kept you interested. Most importantly, there were plenty of volunteers who encouraged you to keep going, especially from miles 20 through 26.2.
In a marathon the race does not really start until about mile 20. The last few miles really hurt physically — your quads and hamstrings are screaming, but you just have to slow down and mentally keep pushing forward to the next mile.
The sense of accomplishment far outweighed any fatigue and muscle soreness I experienced. I will never forget the sight of a man in his 80s who had on a T-shirt that said, “If I can do this, so can you.” It was a great experience, and I can’t wait for my next one.