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2012 Employee Recognition Awards - Land Use & Regulatory


GOLD - Shared by members of the Bench Excavation Working Group
Left to Right:
Michael Sapunor
Justine Wolcott
Carisa Duran
Todd Sexauer

The Bench Excavation Project is designed to implement hydraulic and hydrologic improvements to the conveyance capacity of the existing undersized and antiquated Pajaro River Levee system. The project will also improve floodplain functions, restore native vegetation and in-stream habitat, remove sediment, re-sculpt the channel design in the bench lands between the levees, and make other improvements in the project area. Members of the Bench Excavation Working Group completed the entire planning effort for this two county project and performed all the necessary tasks under an intensely tight schedule associated with regulatory compliance, preparation, and awarding of contract bid documents. While Todd undertook the preparation and development of legally defensible environmental review and compliance documents, Carisa, Michael, and Justine spent countless hours on regulatory procedures and developed post-project construction mitigation measures and re-planting guidelines. As a result of the extraordinary effort demonstrated by Carisa, Michael, Justine, and Todd, the extensive regulatory issues were addressed for the entire project scope in advance of the first phase of construction, and the construction schedule was met for both phases of this significant project. This project is cited as a model for similar types of river channel improvement efforts throughout the state. Each member of the working group is to be commended for the support they provided during every step in the process.


SILVER - Antonella Gentile, Planning Department

As a Planning Technician working with the National Flood Insurance Program, Antonella realized that the County was one of only a few jurisdictions in the state that was not enrolled in the National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System. The Community Rating System is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community flood plain management activities that exceed the minimum National Flood Insurance Program requirements. The process to obtain acceptance into the Community Rating System is extremely detailed, including completion of an application involving literally hundreds of pages of application materials; cataloging, organizing and updating Planning Department file information; successful completion of a FEMA audit; outreach to property owners who reside in the flood zones; and development of information for inclusion on the Planning Department's website. In addition to all the necessary tasks associated with acceptance into the system, Antonella also helped draft grant language to obtain approximately $42,000 for work involved with entering the program and maintaining the County's standing in the program. As a result of Antonella's outstanding work, County residents who purchase flood insurance will now realize savings totaling approximately $200,000 a year.


BRONZE - TIED between Brian Van Straten of Public Works and Members of the Simpkins Family Swim Center Team

Brian Van Straten

For many years the County has accepted concrete at a discounted rate at the Buena Vista Landfill, where it was stockpiled for recycling into baserock by a firm selected on a competitive bid basis to process the concrete on-site for use as road base material. When the downturn in the economy led to a reduced demand for baserock made from crushed concrete – which in turn led to insufficient interest from bidders to process the concrete pile – Brian developed a plan to arrange for small-scale, more frequent crushing by contracting for rental of a self-contained crushing unit on an as-needed basis. The unit not only crushes the concrete chunks into baserock, but also magnetically removes any rebar and wire reinforcement encased in the concrete, which can then be recycled as scrap metal. This innovative idea has allowed the County to market the crushed concrete baserock product and sell it directly to homeowners needing a small amount for home improvement projects or to contractors for large-scale driveway projects. This sustainable model for concrete recycling builds on Brian's experience working with baserock on road projects. It is also an example of Brian combining his ingenuity and skills to further the County's zero waste goal and conserve remaining landfill capacity, while making a useful product derived from waste available for use at the local level.

Members of the Simpkins Family Swim Center Team

Left to Right:
Matthew McGibben
Annie Morris
Al Galvan
Rebecca Hurley
Margaret Ingraham

As with other County operations, the Simpkins Family Swim Center has been impacted by budget reductions over the past few years, resulting in increased user fees, reduced hours of operation and reduced participation, and general concern about the viability and sustainability of this valuable community resource. Margaret, Rebecca, Annie, Al, and Matthew responded by developing ways to stabilize fees, add new classes and programs offered by the County, and coordinate with partners who use the swim center to add other classes. Their efforts led to increased use of the facility and generation of critically important new revenues. As a result of their ingenuity and community outreach, the swim center was open seven days a week over the summer for the first time, closures were reduced over the remainder of the year, additional energy saving features were implemented, and maintenance routines were adjusted to facilitate increased use. The changes implemented by this team have permitted the County to better serve the community and to reduce net County costs.