The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Orange fire program best in state
Orange County has produced the best overall county government program in the state, according to the Virginia Association of Counties.
Two Orange County projects were named as winners in the 2013 VACo Achievement Awards. One of them, the Fire and EMS Department’s Project MITI (Multimedia Interactive Training Initiative), was chosen as the overall best achievement of the 12 award-winning projects selected from a pool of 38 Virginia applicants.
The project was also a winner in the Criminal Justice/Public Safety category.
Retired Henrico County Deputy County Manager George Drumwright, one of the judges for the statewide competition, praised Project MITI, which was an effort by Orange to stem a decline in volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel.
“This successful MITI approach has been shared with 12 other EMS organizations and three other hospital groups,” Drumwright said. “This is a low-cost, high-tech training approach.”
The award-winning program was produced by Assistant Chief Tom Joyce and firefighter/EMT Tim Bullock under the direction of County Fire and EMS Chief John Harkness.
Presenting the award at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, VACo General Counsel Phyllis Errico noted that Project MITI’s timeliness was remarkable.
“With all the new training standards and all the demands on public safety, along with a lack of funding to meet these demands, this program is exactly the type of thing that we like to recognize,” she said.
Orange County also won an award for its Coffeewood Canines’ Training Program, a collaborative effort between the Coffeewood Correctional Facility in Culpeper County and the Orange County Animal Shelter.
Coffeewood inmates who are trained as canine handlers work with dogs from the shelter to develop the animals’ social and obedience skills, and have trained several retrievers for service as therapy dogs.
The presence of the dogs in the correctional facility has reinforced positive traits such as patience, perseverance, teamwork and problem-solving in their human trainers, according to a county press release noted.
More than 200 dogs have been rehabilitated and adopted through the initiative.
Recognizing Coffeewood Warden Samuel Pruett and Counselor Billie Lacy, as well as Orange County Animal Shelter Director Beth Hamilton, Errico said their program was “one of the most outstanding entries we have ever had” in the highly competitive Regional Collaboration category.