Discussing Investing in the Outdoors: How Parks Promote Public Health at MACoCon

Parks play an essential role in how communities operate, and yet this role often goes unnoticed. Over the past year, public parks have stepped up to fill in the gap of many essential services that became difficult to provide. This was the subject of a recent session at the MACo Summer Conference moderated by Delegate Maggie McIntosh. Where did Maryland residents go to safely escape from hibernation during the pandemic? Public parks and open spaces!…

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Combatting Distracted Driving Requires Multi-Solution Approach

Combatting distracted driving to save lives was the focus of an expert panel at the “Eyes on the Road: Vehicles and Vision Zero” session at the recent Summer MACo Conference held on Ocean City. The panel was moderated by Prince George’s County Council Member Monique Anderson-Walker, a passionate advocate for improving road safety and founder of the #DrivingItHome campaign. #DrivingItHome is a community partnership that focuses on raising awareness for safe driving by stressing six…

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Trust, Authenticity, and Creative Approaches Are Key to Effective Crisis Communication

COVID-19 required county governments, health departments, and other public agencies to step up their communications game. Lessons learned for how to do that effectively for different audiences was the focus of the “Crisis Communications: Ensuring Residents are Ready” at the MACo Summer Conference, held August 18-21 in Ocean City. The session was moderated by Senator Cheryl Kagan, a champion for effective emergency communications at all levels of government. Chas Eby, Deputy Director of the Maryland…

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The Future of Maryland’s Workforce: Apprenticeship Programs for Public Workers

The MACo Summer Conference featured a session discussing challenges facing Maryland’s public trades workforce and how Counties can turn those challenges into rewarding opportunities. This session was moderated by Jack Wilson, Commissioner for Queen Anne’s County.   It is no secret that the labor force in the United States is shifting. More individuals are attaining higher education, and each generation is becoming more educated then the last. This shift in the labor force is posing…

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Lessons from Virtual Learning and Considerations for the Future

Attendees at MACo's Summer Conference dove into lessons from virtual learning and how counties can utilize the experience in the future. At the 2021 MACo Summer Conference session, “Lessons Learned and Ways Forward with Virtual Learning,” county leaders reflected on the experience of pandemic learning and shared best practices for the future. The session was moderated by former teacher Senator Paul Pinsky, Chair of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. In conversation were…

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Health Equity: Challenges and Best Practices Discussed at MACoCon

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing health inequities for Marylanders, but experts say there are ways to lessen gaps.  At the 2021 MACo Summer Conference session, “Health Equity - What's at Stake for Your County,” attendees learned about the basics of health equity, best practices to advance it, and challenges counties face to do so. The session was moderated by Speaker Pro Tem Sheree Sample-Hughes and featured several public health experts, including Prince George's County Health…

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Some Pandemic Quick Fixes Might Have Staying Power

As counties continue to learn from the COVID pandemic, some creative solutions might be here to stay.  At the 2021 MACo Summer Conference session, “Are Some Pandemic Quick Fixes Here to Stay? A Longer-Term Look at Short-Term Solutions,” attendees considered the benefits and challenges of a range of "quick fix" solutions enacted during the pandemic, namely telework and to-go goods and services. The session was moderated by Delegate Christopher Adams of District 37B (Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, & Wicomico…

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Addressing Generational Poverty Requires a Cultural Shift for Public Agencies

Combatting generational poverty and improving outcomes for kids was the focus of the “Reaching Troubled Kids, 2 Generations at a Time” session at the recent MACo summer conference. Audience members heard from an expert panel on practical programs that have shown success in helping to change the cycles that are detrimental to families. Christina Church is one of only seven statewide Two-Generation Officers in the country. She works at the State level to support implementation…

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Charles County Leads the Way in Capitalizing on New Technologies in Food Inspection

The MACo summer conference featured a session on how Maryland’s various county health departments can leverage new technologies to improve food safety inspections. The session was moderated by Senator Addie Eckardt. It is no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought several challenges to the everyday duties of government. The ability to conduct food safety inspections, a function critical to many local economies and already challenging in some jurisdictions, was made even more burdensome in light of COVID.  Lisa Laschalt, Director…

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Best Practice County Financial Management Serves Everyone

As the pandemic continues to shape county budgets and fiscal health, it is more important than ever for counties to implement strong budgeting procedures.  At the 2021 MACo Summer Conference Academy Core session, “County Financial Management,” attendees learned about the budgeting process, funding sources, important financial terms, and considerations to keep in mind when managing their county’s budget. The session was taught by Carroll County Director of Management & Budget Ted Zaleski and moderated by Prince George's…

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