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The original item was published from 11/12/2014 8:42:23 AM to 12/11/2014 12:10:00 AM.

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Posted on: November 12, 2014

[ARCHIVED] ISAC Awards ISAC Excellence in Action Award to Story County

News from the Iowa State Association of Counties: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

5500 Westown Parkway, Suite 190, West Des Moines, IA 50266

November 3, 2014

Rachel Bennett, ISAC Marketing/Communications Coordinator, 515.244.7181
Robin Harlow, ISAC Innovation and Research Manager, 515.244.7181

ISAC Awards ISAC Excellence in Action Award
West Des Moines, IA – The Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) will award its 2014 Excellence in Action Awards on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 during the General Session at the 2014 ISAC 50th Anniversary Celebration (Fall School of Instruction) at the Veterans Memorial Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines. Award winners will include the University of Northern Iowa’s Native Seed Distribution Program, Story County’s Strategically Planning: Building a Solid Foundation, and Melissa Bird, Keokuk County Recorder, Individual Achievement.

The Excellence in Action Award program is a competitive awards program that seeks to recognize innovative county government employees, programs, and projects. Nominations were reviewed and rated based on the following seven attributes: creativity, innovation, cost savings, replication, leadership, increased efficiency, cooperation with others, and perseverance.

University of Northern Iowa’s Native Seed Distribution Program
In 1988 the Iowa Legislature created Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management. The objective of Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management is to preserve, plant, and maintain vegetation of Iowa’s roadsides to be safe, visually interesting, ecologically integrated, and useful for many purposes. In 1998, the University of Northern Iowa Roadside Office implemented the Native Seed Distribution Program.

The Native Seed Distribution Program secures native, source-identified seed for county roadside management programs through the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Alternatives Program and the Iowa Department of Transportation. For about two decades, a concentrated statewide effort has been in place to increase quantities and varieties of Iowa’s native plant species.

Eighty-two counties have participated in the annual native seed distribution since its inception in 1998. In 2014, one third of Iowa’s counties will receive seed as a result of this program, with a value of $250,000. The program has been a valuable partner to the counties and their citizens through the years.

Story County’s Strategically Planning: Building a Solid Foundation
In 2012, Story County elected to participate in ISAC’s strategic planning pilot program. This offered the County an opportunity to be professionally-guided through a process to develop a foundation for a county-wide strategic plan, to build an overarching mission, and to set long-term goals.

Developing a strategic plan is one thing, implementing the strategic plan is where the heavy lifting comes in. Story County is being awarded the Excellence in Action award because they have ingrained the strategic plan into fabric of its county operations.

Story County took necessary steps to officially adopt the Strategic Plan – Story County, Iowa Fiscal Years 2014-2015. County staff offices tasked with the implementation of the various strategies continued to build on momentum introduced in 2012. The 2012 Community Planning Assistance Team Report, along with the Government Restructuring Committee Final Report (2012), outlined recommendations and strategies for Story County to undertake. The 2013 planning work to Story County steps forward, building on the past suggestions and refining and prioritizing based on needs and economic realities.

To quote from their Excellence in Action application, “Story County started out by putting words on a page, identifying steps we collectively felt would continue to take us forward. The Board of Supervisors formally adopted these words, establishing a strategic plan to follow. We framed it and put it on the wall in the public meeting room. We placed the strategic plan online for our citizens to read and understand. We distributed copies to libraries and city halls throughout the county.”

Melissa Bird
Melissa Bird has been the Keokuk County Recorder since January of 2007. She is being recognized for her “Super Star” efforts in the roll out the Iowa Department of Public Health “IVES” program. IVES allows death certificates to be issued in any county, regardless of the county in which the death occurred.

Because this program is a valuable service to county residents, Melissa was passionate about insuring that the program be success. On her own, she produced several webinars to ensure all that county recorders and their employees had an opportunity to receive training for startup and the ongoing going operation. She attended most county recorder training sessions to clarify any questions the recorder or their staff may have had.

To quote Kim Painter, Johnson County Recorder, “Melissa, as the Iowa County Recorders Association president, has had her hands on the wheel of this project since its inception. With stakeholders as diverse as funeral directors, medical examiners, recorders, and physicians, it was a mammoth undertaking. Melissa was there to help insure the needs of users were met. Representing recorders, Melissa assisted in the creation of a system that will be durable and will finally provide statewide service options for Iowa citizens looking to receive birth, death and marriage records.”

If you would like more information about the Excellence in Action program please visit or contact Robin Harlow directly at 515.244.7181 or email

The Iowa State Association of Counties is a private, nonprofit corporation whose members are county officials from the 99 counties in Iowa. ISAC’s mission is to promote effective and responsible county government for the people of Iowa.

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