Fredericksburg receives five awards for health and safety during pandemic

The City of Fredericksburg City Hall building.

Fredericksburg has been awarded five Local Champion Awards for its efforts to protect the health and safety of the city during the coronavirus pandemic.

These awards were given to Fredericksburg City by the Virginia Municipal League.

The Virginia Municipal League is a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan association of city, town, and county governments.

The membership includes 37 cities, 160 towns and eight counties.

The Local Champion Awards recognized local governments for their efforts to provide communication, community health, continuity of operations, economic and business stability, public safety, risk management and education, and youth initiatives during the unprecedented coronavirus public health crisis.

Fredericksburg was recognized for outstanding efforts in five major areas.

Fire Department

In public safety, the men and women of the Fredericksburg Fire Department quickly strategized how to deliver services safely for citizens and staff.

Emergency measures such as shift changes, safety procedures and decontamination processes were implemented in March. The reaction across the disciplines of the department’s fire suppression, medical, and emergency management were broad and required sacrifice but have kept department’s staff virus-free.

Most importantly, Fredericksburg maintained operations for citizens unaffected by the pandemic.

Department of Economic Development and Tourism

Fredericksburg’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism was recognized as a Local Champion for providing economic and business stability.

The department staff were highly responsive to the needs of the local business community amid the pandemic. Their efforts included running two separate small business grant programs that provided $500,000 for Fredericksburg businesses.

Additionally, they launched new information campaigns, revamped online and in person resources, designed and launched a line of face coverings, reimagined events such as Fredericksburg Restaurant Week, and worked with businesses to expand sidewalk seating during Governor Northam’s Phase 2.

Information Technology Department, City Attorney, & Clerk of Council

In response to health restrictions on gatherings, Fredericksburg’s Information Technology Department, City Attorney, and Clerk of Council developed and implemented several solutions to ensure the City Council and various boards could conduct meetings electronically beginning as early as March 20.

Their efforts have won them the Local Champion award for Continuity of Operations.

Moving to online operations required the team to act quickly to ensure that the new online process comply with the Freedom of Information Act, the Records Retention Act, and provide public comment protocols, just to name a few.

Additionally, technical requirements required upgrading internet bandwidth and implementing a streaming solution for the online meeting platforms.

Parks, Recreation, & Events’ Superintendent

Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation & Events’ Superintendent, Jenny Casarotti, was awarded Local Champion for her “Camp at Home” summer program.

This Education and Youth Initiative was a safe solution for engaging children creatively during a time when families were under a stay at home order.

Casarotti designed a new take home camp with boxes containing a week full of activities, ranging from art to physical education.

By being resourceful, using recyclables, inexpensive, and supplies on-hand, she was able to set the price at a very affordable $15.

The following week Casarotti live-streamed herself demonstrating the activities, an hour a day for five days. Children who tuned in could ask questions, and actively participate in the camp. Parents would say that she is a local champion with the Camp at Home initiative.

Executive Leadership Team, Safety & Risk Management, & Public Facilities

Finally, the Fredericksburg’s Executive Leadership Team, Safety and Risk Management and Public Facilities staff were awarded Local Champions for their risk management efforts.

The safety of city employees remains a top priority.

Fredericksburg tasked a team to identify and implement efforts to mitigate city employees’ risks associated with the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Virginia guidelines were shared and followed for all employees, which included risk assessments, implementing physical barriers and a new face covering policy. Staff were assigned to staggered shifts and were trained on best practices while at work.

“The focus and flexibility that our City employees provided during this time of crisis has been very significant and worthy of recognition,” stated City Manager Tim Baroody. “I am grateful to our Fredericksburg team as they continue to demonstrate extraordinary commitment, living our core Values, during these unprecedented times.”

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