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The City of Danville’s use of Facebook Live on River City TV and its “Dan River Twins” children’s book project were among the winners Monday night in the 2017 Innovation Awards for excellence in local government.
The awards were presented by the Virginia Municipal League at its annual banquet held this year in Williamsburg.
Danville submitted two entries in the awards competition, with River City TV’s Facebook Live program winning in the communications category and the Parks and Recreation Department’s children’s book project taking the top honor in the category of working with youth.
River City TV, which serves as the City of Danville’s government access channel, began experimenting a year ago with live-streaming meetings and community events on its Facebook page in an effort to reach out to more citizens. Since then, the page has amassed more than 11,000 followers and garnered more than 2.7 million video views.
The Facebook Live stream is now used for meetings of City Council, Planning Commission and Utility Commission, coverage of ribbon-cutting ceremonies, promotion and coverage of events and activities within the city, and breaking news coverage of severe weather and other events.
Mark Aron, the City’s multimedia specialist, accepted the award last night.
The children’s book entry detailed efforts to produce a book that would change and shape the perception of citizens about the Dan River and encourage them to become champions of it. The book, “The Dan River Twins,” was released in January and is a storybook tale of otters Danny and Mist who are competing in the Otter Frolics games in and along the banks of the river. Otters were chosen as the animal characters because they often can be seen in and along the river banks and their presence is a sign of a healthy river.
Parks and Recreation staff decided the best way to change perception was directly through children, who then would help mold and shape their family members. In addition, staff determined that using the schools and Standards of Learning curriculum would best integrate learning. Books were distributed to fourth grade students. As part of the learning objective, these students were given the opportunity to write the final pages of the book.
A website with a dedicated URL — DanRiverTwins.com — was created to make the book available to everyone. Hard copies are available for sale at the Welcome Center, with proceeds supporting the initiative and purchase of additional books.
Bill Sgrinia, director of parks and recreation, and Jason Bookheimer, community recreation division director and the children’s book project manager, accepted the award at the banquet.
The Innovation Awards recognize outstanding achievements in local governments across Virginia. Formerly known as the VML Achievement Awards, the program is 40 years old and is recognized as Virginia’s highest honor in local government management.
Projects and programs were judged on how well they demonstrate innovative ways of delivering services, address a community need or significantly improve an existing service. Local governments of all size populations competed in six categories.
The entries were evaluated based on the following criteria:
The City of Danville won Virginia Municipal League awards in 2014 for its River District Development Project and in 2012 for its Safe & Sound Neighborhoods program.
The Virginia Municipal League is a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan association of city, town and county governments established in 1905 to improve and assist local governments through legislative advocacy, research, education and other services. The membership includes all 38 cities in the state, 160 towns and eight counties.