Past Recipients

2020 County Best Practices Award Recipients

Program Title: County Clerk's Office Straight to You! / Records on the Run
County: Bexar County
Contact: Priscilla Hernandez, chief deputy-operations, county clerk's office
Phone: (210) 449-9971
Description: A first-of-its-kind mobile satellite office, established as part of County Clerk Lucy Adame-Clark's community outreach efforts, allows residents to record, buy or request copies of vital documents, such as military discharge papers, real property records or marriage licenses, without having to drive to downtown San Antonio.

Program Title: Food Accessibility and Distribution
County: Harris County
Contact: Listed below.
Phone: Listed below.
Description: The Texas Association of Counties combined six related food programs and events initiated by Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia into a single award titled "Food Accessibility and Distribution." These efforts formed a comprehensive approach to countering limits imposed on food accessibility by the pandemic while reducing the risks of exposure to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The six programs:

  • Distributed hundreds of brown bag lunches each week to children at parks and to residents of all ages at community centers. Contact: Jose Jimenez, Precinct 2 purchasing director; (713) 274-2371. 
  • Expanded the daily delivery of free hot meals to qualifying homebound seniors. Contact: Jimenez. 
  • Established a partnership with local restaurants to provide hot meals on Fridays to residents of all ages, not only feeding those in need but also supporting small businesses in the precinct. Contact: Jimenez. 
  • Collaborated with the Houston Food Bank to set up giveaway events that distributed food and supplies to thousands of families throughout Precinct 2. Contact: Chara Bowie, Precinct 2 director of community programs; (713) 274-2124. 
  • Partnered with the nonprofit Second Servings to rescue excess, perishable food and used social media to give it away at pop-up drive-thru locations before it spoiled. Contact: Sydney Pennie, Precinct 2 superintendent of parks administration services; (713) 274-2073. 
  • Collected nonperishable food items approved by a registered dietitian, converted community centers closed by the pandemic into storage space and organized delivery routes to bring hundreds of shelf-stable meal boxes to about 300 senior residents. Contact: Bowie. 

Program Title: Communication Coalition
County: Kaufman County
Contact: Jerry Dean, county administrator
Phone: (469) 376-4138
Description: Realizing the need for more effective countywide communications, County Judge Hal Richards assembled a group of local leaders and supporting partners to build a cooperative approach to sharing accurate information. The countywide coalition that developed from Richards' initiative gives participants a platform for communications training and networking.

Program Title: Video Marriage Licenses
County: Kaufman County
Contact: Laura Hughes, county clerk
Phone: (469) 376-4735
Description: When the pandemic closed the county courthouse to visitors, the Kaufman County clerk's office was no longer able to verify a couple's application for a marriage license in person or administer a sworn oath, as required by state law. So, County Clerk Laura Hughes and her staff developed a cost-effective solution using tools already available. They adapted videoconferencing and electronic-signature software to continue to issue marriage licenses and collect payment for them while observing COVID-19 safety protocols.

Program Title: Intimate Partner Violence / Domestic Violence Initiative
County: Tarrant County
Contact: Sharen Wilson, criminal district attorney
Phone: (817) 884-1400
Description: A new intake program developed under the leadership of Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson streamlines the evaluation of misdemeanor domestic violence cases and draws on the special knowledge and skills of a review team to better assess individual cases and understand the legal goals for each one.

Program Title: Videoconferencing Kiosk for Marriage License Processing
County: Tarrant County
Contact: Clint Ludwig, chief deputy, county clerk's office
Phone: (817) 884-1079
Description: Determined to continue to process marriage licenses during the pandemic while remaining compliant with state law, Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Nicholson's office set up a computer kiosk in a separate, private room using existing videoconferencing capabilities. Disinfectant and hand sanitizer were provided. The kiosk enabled clerks to verify and issue marriage licenses while following safety guidelines.

Program Title: Neighborhood Fire Drill
County: Travis County
Contact: Brigid Shea, county commissioner
Phone: (512) 854-9222
Description: With Travis County ranked at high risk for wildfirePrecinct 2 Commissioner Brigid Shea worked with other county officials, residents in a 200-home, fire-vulnerable area and a University of Texas professor to design, conduct and document a neighborhood-based evacuation drill. The successful experiment offers other counties and communities a template for preparing against the threat of wildfire.

Program Title: Silver Watch Program
County: Travis County
Contact: Jama Pantel, government relations, Precinct 5 constable's office
Phone: (512) 854-9101
Description: Recognizing that there were many elderly residents who didn't have anyone around who could check on them regularly, Travis County Precinct 5 Constable Carlos B. Lopez devised a solution: the Silver Watch Program. Precinct 5 deputies, trained in partnership with Meals on Wheels, call on seniors when they're out in the community. These welfare checks, even with safety restrictions in place, have proved crucial during the pandemic for residents who have little or no support.

Program Title: Financial Literacy Program
County: Williamson County
Contact: Evelyn McLean, Precinct 3 justice of the peace
Phone: (512) 943-1508
Description: Williamson County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Evelyn McLean saw how repeat citations for driving without a license, driving with an invalid license or driving with no car insurance often traveled hand in hand with financial problems. Working with the Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, she developed a financial literacy class that defendants could take to avoid paying a fine and, it was hoped, reduce their chances of becoming a repeat offender. The program's quick success has prompted other county officials to adopt it.

2012 County Best Practices Award Recipients

Program Title: Law Enforcement Center
County: Carson County
Contact: Brenda Vermillion
Phone: (806) 537-5395
Description: The Carson County Sheriff’s Office worked with the City of Panhandle to develop a law enforcement center that serves all the cities as well as all residents of Carson county.
Details: View Video
Award: Service

Program Title: Records Management: Record, Retain, Recycle
County: Hidalgo County
Contact: Arturo Guajardo, Jr.
Phone: (956) 318-2100
Description: This records management program created a systematic method to manage the county’s increasing volume of recyclable materials.
Details: View Video
Award: Innovation

Program Title: Senior Skip- Out
County: Lipscomb County
Contact: Sana Alexander
Phone: (806) 862-2611
Description: The Sheriff’s Department created a program to help the county’s graduating high school seniors prepare for the “real world” that awaits them outside the Lipscomb county line.
Details: View Video
Award: Outstanding Achievement

Program Title: Empowering Seniors
County: Tarrant County
Contact: Gary Fickes
Phone: (817) 581-3600
Description: Tarrant County created a senior task force to help area retirees better navigate the complex web of government agencies, health care and financial institutions and other life issues that come with aging.
Details: View Video
Award: Innovation

2011 County Best Practices Award Recipients

Program Title: Bond Forfeiture Program
County: Nacogdoches County
Contact: John Fleming
Phone: (936) 560-7789
Description: The Bond Forfeiture Program reduces the number of arrest warrants for failure to appear, reduces the number of warrants in the system and improves efficiency in the county.
Details: View Video
Award: Outstanding Achievement

Program Title: County Government Week - History of Officials
County: Tom Green County
Contact: Dianna Spieker
Phone: (325) 653-1043
Description: A detailed history of officials for each county office.
Details: View Video
Award: Superior Innovation

Program Title: Houston County Facebook Page
County: Houston County
Contact: Lonnie Hunt
Phone: (936) 544-3255
Description: The Houston County Facebook Page is a tool to provide the public with important information and to promote awareness about the role of county government.
Details: View Video
Award: Exceptional Delivery of Service

Program Title: Lubbock County Mental Health Screening and Indigent Defense Delivery System
County: Lubbock County
Contact: Patti Jones
Phone: (806) 775-1335
Description: Through contracts with the local mental health and mental retardation authority and the local bar association, the program is able to screen and assess all inmates booked into the county jail. Eligible inmates are referred to receive specialized defense counsel and caseworker services.
Details: View Video
Award: Superior Innovation

Program Title: Scofflaw Program
County: El Paso County
Contact: Daniel Haggerty
Phone: (915) 546-2044
Description: A vehicle registration process that identifies citizens that have delinquent fines or fees owed to the county by cross referencing the drivers license with the El Paso County JIMS database. If there is a delinquency the individual is referred to the office that they owe money. Once the delinquent balance is cleared the system will allow them to proceed with the vehicle registration.
Details: View Video
Award: Superior Innovation

Program Title: Veterans Intervention Project
County: Travis County
Contact: Bruce Elfant
Phone: (512) 854-9100
Description: A collaboration of more than 40 federal, state, and local agencies, identifies veterans the first time they are arrested, connects with legal assistance, housing, employment and treatment services, and resolves their criminal cases in a specialized court for veterans.
Details: View Video
Award: Superior Innovation

Program Title: VETRIDES
County: Burnet, Llano and Lampasas counties
Contact: Chuck Caraway
Phone: (512) 715-5271
Description: A collaboration between Burnet, Llano and Lampasas County Veteran Service Offices offering a veteran ride program. Transportation is provided to VA facilities, clinics, the grocery store and other places. Trips are coordinated with several clients for financial and program efficiency.
Details: View Video
Award: Exceptional Delivery of Service

Program Title: YourGOV Website and Mobile App
County: Bexar County
Contact: Renee Green
Phone: (210) 335-6700
Description: Allows Bexar County citizens to report non-emergency related issues to the County via web or mobile phone.
Details: View Video
Award: Superior Innovation

2010 County Best Practices Award Recipients

Program Title: ACH Property Tax Payments
County: Williamson County
Contact: Cathy Atkinson
Phone: (512) 943-1544
Description: Created a more convenient method of property tax payments.
Details: View Video
Award: Exceptional Delivery of Service

Program Title: Compensatory Time Management
County: Smith County
Contact: Adrienne Graham
Phone: (903) 590-4607
Description: Tackled compensatory time with teamwork.
Details: View Video
Award: Outstanding Achievement

Program Title: Coordinated Jail Population Management
County: Tarrant County
Contact: Les Smith
Phone: (817) 884-1734
Description: Created a centralized nervous system for county criminal justice.
Details: View Video
Award: Superior Innovation

Program Title: Jail Intelligence Unit
County: Webb County
Contact: Anita Guerra
Phone: (956) 523-4521
Description: Proactively gathered and analyzed information to prevent crimes
Details: View Video
Award: Outstanding Achievement

Program Title: Lady Justice Water Conservation Fountain
County: Bexar County
Contact: Betty Bueche
Phone: (210) 335-2218
Description: Created a public plaza with responsible art.
Details: View Video
Award: Superior Innovation

Program Title: Mental Health Jail Diversion
County: Taylor County
Contact: George A. Newman
Phone: (325) 674-1235
Description: Used coordination to divert the mentally ill away from the revolving door to jail.
Details: View Video
Award: Superior Innovation

Program Title: Northeast Newsletter
County: Tarrant County
Contact: Gary Fickes
Phone: (817) 581-3600
Description: Raised awareness of county services, one newsletter at a time.
Details: View Video
Award: Exceptional Delivery of Service

Program Title: One Day 4-H Downtown Revitalization
County: Madison County
Contact: Arthur Henson
Phone: (936) 348-2670
Description: Showed how helpful 4-H programs can be in one day.
Details: View Video
Award: Exceptional Delivery of Service

Program Title: Summer Jobs for Teens & Seniors
County: Houston County
Contact: Lonnie Hunt
Phone: (936) 544-3255
Description: Grabed grant opportunities to bring federal dollars back home
Details: View Video
Award: Outstanding Achievement

Program Title: Volunteer Job Training Program
County: Bee County
Contact: Anna Maria Silvas
Phone: (361) 362-3242
Description: Found alternative incentives and funding for office help.
Details: View Video
Award: Superior Innovation

2018 County Best Practices Award Recipients

Program Title: Collin County Clerk Foreclosure Notices
County: Collin County
Contact: Stacey Kemp, Collin County Clerk
Phone: (972) 548-4185
Description:  Collin County took accessing foreclosure information - a laborious, decades-old process - and made it easier and more useful to residents and potential investors. App users can now see a map, street view, appraised value, deed history and Trustee Notice from their favorite device. Clerks are now using their time and resources in other areas, saving the county approximately $28,000 annually.

Program Title: MHMC/Indigent Defense
County: Collin County
Contact: Alyse Ferguson, Chief Attorney
Phone: (214) 491-4805
Description: To save time and money - and more importantly, provide improved services to those suffering from mental illness - the county designated a single source of contact to be a Competency Coordinator (CC). The CC oversees early identification, centralized coordination, communication and coordinated efforts for all competency cases. Since its implementation, the savings in jail days alone has been approximately $700,000.

Program Title: Comal County Adopt-a-Roadway
County: Comal County
Contact: Paul Anthony, Public Information Officer
Phone: (830) 221-1110
Description: The county's Road Department partnered with its Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team to resurrect and modernize an abandoned 1990s Adopt-a-Roadway program. A new app makes it easy for volunteer-minded residents to serve their community and beautify the environment. Within three months, groups had adopted 22 road segments and boat ramps - more than half of the available total - for a savings of $1,000 per mile, per year for the county.

Program Title: Evidence/Property Room Modernization
County: Fort Bend County
Contact: Chad Norvell, Major
Phone: (281) 341-4705
Description: Fort Bend County's evidence/property room now has 25 percent more usable space, is a safer environment and allows for faster evidence retrieval. Efficiency enhancements include energy-saving lighting, Epoxy flooring, dust-free shelving, new signage, improved security and the implementation of a barcoding/scanner and mobile laptop system.

Program Title: Executive Office - Nuisance Abatement Program
County: Hidalgo County
Contact: J. Chris Trevino, County Operations Administrator
Phone: (956) 292-7007
Description: Hidalgo County implemented a Nuisance Abatement Program as an effective means to address the health and safety needs of its rural residents and the problems associated with unkempt properties. Residents are able to submit complaints related to unsanitary conditions, weedy lots, county property and drainage easements. Over 570 case have been successful closured to date.

Program Title: I.M.P.A.C.T.S. Values Program
County: Midland County
Contact: Jenny Hilton, Court Administrator
Phone: (432) 688-4310
Description: Leading from the inside out, Midland County formed the I.M.P.A.C.T.S. Values Program in which county employees nominate coworkers for how they embody their six values - integrity, compassion, diligence, accountability, respect and trust. Honorees are recognized and awarded prizes monthly in the program that stands for Influence More People, Actions, Character, Trust and Service. Morale and enthusiasm are at an all-time high.

Program Title: A Guide to Your County Government
County: Washington County
Contact: Beth Rothermel, County Clerk
Phone: (979) 277-6216
Description: Part county guide, part county history, Washington County published the first-of-its-kind Guide to Your Government booklet. It features current county officials and department heads with descriptions of the function of each office, along with a list of past officials. Available in print and online, county personnel and the public can reference who's who and what's what, effectively making county government more understandable and accessible.

Program Title: Electronic Incident Form
County: Williamson County
Contact: Heather Kirkwood, Risk & Safety Coordinator
Phone: (512) 943-1533
Description: Williamson County streamlined and modernized an antiquated system of incident reporting. A new electronic form, created by the county's HR Risk & Safety and Information Technology Services, makes processing auto, auto liability, property and mobile equipment incident and/or damage claims a breeze. A small investment has yielded annual person-hour savings of $15,900.

Program Title: The Power of a Library Card
County: Wilson County
Contact: Nicki Stohr​, Librarian
Phone: (830) 393-7361
Description: Considering it "almost criminal" to neglect rural Wilson County residents' needs for library services, a newly hired librarian set out to ensure every incorporated area of the county had its own library. With commissioners court approval, strategic alliances helped introduce a book kiosk and two additional libraries in the county. Within two years, library visitors have more than double, saving taxpayers $1,155,325 in books they would have otherwise purchased.

2016 County Best Practices Award Recipients

Program Title: 10-Month Payment Plan for Seniors, Disabled Citizens, and Disabled Veterans
County: Bexar County
Contact: Lisa Anderson, Tax Office - Chief of Administration
Phone: (210) 335-6585
Description: The county created a program allowing select residents spread their property tax payments out over 10 months.

Program Title: University of County Government
County: Comal County
Contact: Paul Anthony, Public Information Officer
Phone: (830) 221-1110
Description: The county created a weekly, nine-session course to educate the public about county government and encourage civic engagement.

Program Title: Web Mapping Application for West Nile Virus Surveillance
County: Denton County
Contact: Aldo Avina, GIS Coordinator
Phone: (940) 349-4590
Description: The county’s Health Department and its Geographic Information Systems Division worked together to expand surveillance for mosquito-borne West Nile virus in the county’s unincorporated areas and develop an online interactive map that presents county data alongside that collected by municipalities.

Program Title: Sovereign Filings
County: El Paso County
Contact: Delia Briones, County Clerk
Phone: (915) 546-2071
Description: The county created a process to address and review sovereign filings.

Program Title: Non-Disruptive Pipe Repair
County: Gregg County
Contact: Ronnie McKinney, Commissioner Precinct 1
Phone: (903) 663-0400
Description: Using an innovative method to replace metal storm culvert pipes, the county saved money and avoided having to excavate roadways and disrupt traffic.

Program Title: Executive Office: Vehicle GPS Program
County: Hidalgo County
Contact: J. Chris Trevino, County Operations Administrator
Phone: (956) 292-7007
Description: GPS trackers have been placed in county cars to monitor locations, speed, mileage, etc., effectively cutting down on fuel cost.

Program Title: Mental Health Docket
County: Potter County
Contact: County Judge Nancy Tanner
Phone: (806) 379-2251
Description: The county created a mental health docket to reduce the number of inmates with mental illness diagnoses serving time for minor offenses in the county jail.

Program Title: Honorary Jurors Program
County: Tarrant County
Contact: Sergio L. De Leon, Justice of the Peace Precinct 5
Phone: (817) 713-7920
Description: The county created this program to deliver public education to students about the justice of the peace and constable’s duties.

Program Title: Cash Balancing Standardization Project
County: Tarrant County
Contact: Anita Elsakhawy, Director of Accounting
Phone: (817) 884-1708
Description: This program improves the management of tax dollars through the use of new tools and procedures.

Program Title: Armed Forces First Initiative
County: Tarrant County
Contact: Steve Townsend, Precinct 4 Administrator
Phone: (817) 238-4400
Description: This program honors members of the U.S. military seeking in-person county services.

Program Title: Senior Fraud Prevention Program
County: Travis County
Contact: Garry Brown, Community Outreach Director
Phone: (512) 854-0171
Description: The county developed a program to deliver helpful tips and resources to seniors.

Program Title: Text 2 Register Program
County: Travis County
Contact: Amanda Katzer, Tax Office - Business Analyst
Phone: (512) 854-3991
Description: The county established a program that allows residents to text a request for a voter registration form.

Program Title: Driver's License Assistance Program
County: Travis County
Contact: Lisa Rush, Manager RMCR Law Library & Self Help Center
Phone: (512) 854-9290
Description: The county created a program that helps indigent defendants get an Occupations Driver’s License.

Program Title: Criminal Attorney Upload/Interface
County: Travis County
Contact: Nicki Riley, Auditor
Phone: (512) 854-3227
Description: Indigent defense attorneys now use an electronic process for payments, resulting in an increase in accuracy and a decrease in processing times.

Program Title: Digital Justice Court
County: Travis County
Contact: Nathan Armentrout, Justice of the Peace Precinct 2. Executive Assistant
Phone: (512) 854-6369
Description: The county is now using electronic forms to help reduce paper consumption. The program allows items to be quickly signed, filed and emailed.

Program Title: Crossroads Area Veterans Center
County: Victoria County
Contact: Benjamin Zeller, County Judge
Phone: (361) 575-4558
Description: The county established the Crossroads Area Veterans Center to provide a one-stop shop for veterans seeking benefits assistance, mental health services and job counseling.

Program Title: Same-Day Appointment
County: Williamson
Contact: Larry Gaddes, Tax Assessor-Collector
Phone: (512) 943-1954
Description: The county created an online resource where residents may schedule same-day appointments and avoid long wait times.

Program Title: Legislative Initiative for Reactivation of Peace Officer License
County: Webb County
Contact: Anita Guerra, Grant Writer
Phone: (956) 523-4521
Description: This program helped introduce and pass legislation that allows the reactivation of retired peace officers’ licenses.

Program Title: Legislative Initiative for County Right of Way Royalty
Counties: DeWitt, Gonzales & Karnes counties
Contact: Daryl L. Fowler, DeWitt County Judge
Phone: (361) 275-0961
Description: Representatives in these counties introduced legislation that allows revenue from oil and gas leases on county rights of way be set aside for county use.

Program Title: Energy Sector Tax Equity and State Responsibility Legislative Initiative
Counties: DeWitt, Gonzales, Karnes, Live Oak & McMullen counties
Contact: Daryl L. Fowler, DeWitt County Judge
Phone: (361) 275-0961
Description: County judges and commissioners in these five counties coordinated efforts to pass legislation that provides opportunities for enhanced local revenue and state grants to fund road repairs and improve public safety for hundreds of miles of road damaged during the recent oil and gas boom.

2013 County Best Practices Award Recipients

Program Title: The Tire Shark
County: Collin County
Contact: Tim Wyatt
Phone: (972) 548-4673
Description: The Collin County Public Works Department joined forces with the Collin County Sheriff's Office to dispose of illegally dumped tires collected during clean-up of dumping sites along its county roads and creek beds.
Details: View Video

Program Title: Marks, Brands and Tattoos
County: Collin County
Contact: Stacy Kemp
Phone: (972) 548-4185
Description: Online registration program for livestock.
Details: View Video

Program Title: QR Codes on Tax Statements
County: Comal County
Contact: Cathy Talcott
Phone: (830) 221-1355
Description: The first county in the nation to put a QR code on its tax statements so that residents can easily pay property taxes via their smart phones.
Details: View Video

Program Title: Warrant Laser-Fiche Program
County: Harris County
Contact: Tim Cannon
Phone: (281) 401-6344
Description: Allows for warrants to be searched through a variety of fields; the Precinct 4 Constable's Office no longer has to house thousands of paper warrants.
Details: View Video

Program Title: Domestic Abuse Intervention
County: Hidalgo County
Contact: Lupe Trevino
Phone: (956) 393-6179
Description: Established a team of Domestic Abuse Intervention Specialists, specially-trained sheriffs deputies that work to reach out to victims of domestic violence and intervene with first-time perpetrators so they do not re-offend.

Program Title: Bridging the Knowledge Gaps
County: Tarrant County
Contact: Jeff Nicholson
Phone: (817) 884-3295
Description: Established a robust "Bridging the Knowledge Gaps" intranet, which has increased efficiency and broken down departmental barriers.
Details: View Video