Kingston, NY – The National Association of Counties (“NACo”) has awarded Ulster County its 2013 Achievement Award for County Executive Hein’s Strategic Taxpayer Relief through Innovative Visions in Education (S.T.R.I.V.E.) initiative. NACo’s Achievement Award selects and highlights innovative county programs across the country that offer creative solutions to problems local governments face. The County Executive’s S.T.R.I.V.E. initiative includes the conversion of the former Sophie Finn Elementary School into a SUNY Ulster extension center to provide better access to education while at the same time saving taxpayer dollars; establishes a strategic working partnership between Ulster County, the City of Kingston, SUNY Ulster, and the Kingston City School District to break down traditional institutional barriers at the four disparate entities; and developed cooperative solutions to common concerns and issues. “I am honored to receive the 2013 NACo Achievement Award on behalf of all those involved in making S.T.R.I.V.E. a reality, and I thank the National Association of Counties for this important recognition,” stated County Executive Mike Hein. “At all levels of government, we need to think outside traditional organizational boundaries to ensure that public resources are used efficiently and effectively. I hope that S.T.R.I.V.E. will ultimately serve as a model of innovative solutions to difficult issues that transcends multiple entities. The bottom line is that we all work for the same citizens, and every organization must remain focused on working together.” The S.T.R.I.V.E. project was designed to address a multitude of challenges facing UlsterCounty, the City of Kingston, SUNY Ulster, and the KingstonCitySchool District (“KCSD”). The initiative’s far-reaching and diverse goals include: revitalization and adaptive re-use of a former urban elementary school building as a community college extension center; consolidation of County government offices and improvement of service delivery to the public; expansion of educational, internship and job training opportunities for urban students; and generation of long-term financial savings to County, City of Kingston, and School District taxpayers. The first phase of the S.T.R.I.V.E. project is currently underway, which will renovate the former Sophie Finn Elementary School in the City of Kingston into a modern community college extension center within walking distance to the Kingston High School. “I look forward to the day when KingstonHigh School students can walk next door to SUNY Ulster and I congratulate County Executive Hein for receiving this national award. His S.T.R.I.V.E. initiative demonstrates that creative problem solving between local governments and school districts can save taxpayers money and improve critical services to our youth,” noted Kingston City School District Superintendent Paul Padalino. “I want to commend Executive Hein on receiving this well-deserved award,” said SUNY Ulster President Donald Katt. “His S.T.R.I.V.E. Project brought the KingstonCitySchool District and the College together in an exciting collaboration for new and expanded educational services. The location of our new extension center places us in a hub with the KingstonHigh School and the two Health Alliance Campuses. It will also give us a permanent site in Kingston and lower the cost of leasing which is currently met through our operating budget. I truly believe the residents of UlsterCounty will benefit greatly from this project.” The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,069 counties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public’s understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research, and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.
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