Feature: Best of Hampton Roads
James City County
James City County is the recipient of the 2012 Gold Medal Award which recognizes the County as the best managed park and recreation system in the nation in its population category. The award was presented by the National Recreation and Park Association and the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration during their annual conference in October 2012. The Gold Medal Award honors communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Each agency is judged on its ability to address the needs of those it serves through the collective energies of citizens, staff, and elected officials. James City County has retained a Triple-A bond rating on previously issued general obligation debt from both Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s (S&P) Rating Service. In addition, Moody’s Investors Service affirmed its Aa1 rating for General Obligation Bonds and revised its outlook to positive. The positive outlook represents an improvement in Moody’s rating from its previous Aa1 which had no comment relating to their outlook. The ratings are advantageous in advance of the Aug. 21 bond sale that will finance upcoming capital projects including various school projects and a replacement fire station. The Triple-A rating is the highest rating issued by Fitch and S&P and maintains the County’s “rare air” status achieved in February 2011.
In September, 2012, Newport News was awarded by America’s Promise Alliance’s “100 Best Communities for Young People.” The national award was given to Newport News to recognize its outstanding and innovative work in addressing the high school dropout crisis and for its programs and services that make it an outstanding place for youth to live, learn and grow. The City is now is a five-time 100 Best winner.
Last December, 2012, Norfolk was awarded the National Award for Budget and Financial Reporting. The Virginian-Pilot reported that Norfolk’s Office of Budget and Grants Management received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its 2012 fiscal year budget, given to governmental agencies whose spending plans go beyond the minimum reporting standards and promote transparency. The award was given to the city by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. The honor is presented to governments whose budgets are judged by a peer review panel to ensure that the documents are written as an operations guide, a financial plan and a communication device. Norfolk is also rated rated “#2” in the country for military retirees in a joint study conducted by USAA, Military.com and Bestplaces.net.
The city of Poquoson was included among “10 Perfect suburbs” in the country by CNBC.com in 2011. The list was compiled by Location Inc., a data analysis company and creator of consumer reference site 10 • Coastal Virginia 2013-14
Neighborhood Scout. The selections were based on suburbs with the best mix of good schools, affordable housing, low crime, educated neighbors, employment and reasonable commutes. Norfolk Botanical Garden Bloomberg’s Business Week Magazine selected the City of Poquoson as the “Best Affordable Suburb” in Virginia in 2010. Evaluation factors included livability, education, low crime rates, economy, unemployment rate, and affordability.
The city of Portsmouth won during Winter 2012 EPA’s “Smart Growth Achievement.” The City reported the award was in the category of Programs and Policies and presented at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The National Award for Smart Growth Achievement is given for creative, sustainable initiatives that help protect the health and the environment of our communities while also strengthening local economies. Seven projects were honored at the awards ceremony. Portsmouth was selected from 47 applicants from 25 states. The winning entries were chosen based on their effectiveness in creating sustainable communities; fostering equitable development among public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders; and serving as national models for environmentally and economically sustainable development.
City Government of Suffolk reported in 2012 that it was named the #9 community by CNN-Money Magazine in its “Best Places to Live National Top 25” list for “Where the Jobs are in 2012.” The City also finished in the Top 5 in the United States for their population category in the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) 29th Annual National Night Out crime, drug and gang prevention event. This marks the seventh straight year that Suffolk has brought home an award for their participation in this nationwide police-community partnership where over 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U. S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases around the world joined forces to take back their streets in a “going away party for crime” on August 7, 2012. Suffolk was the only Hampton Roads city to place nationally, and the highest ranking city or county in the entire state of Virginia as judged by the National Association of Town Watch.
VIRGINIA BEACH • Best-Run City in America, 24/7 Wall Street, 2012. • Second Best City in America for Raising a Family. 24/7 Wall Street, January, 2012. • Second Most Small-Business Friendly City, Governing Magazine April 2013. • Sixth Happiest City in the Country in Which to Work. Forbes. com, January 2013. • Seventh Healthiest City in America for Women. Women’s Health Magazine, January, 2012. • One of 29 accredited economic development organizations in
COASTAL VIRGINIA Living in Hampton Roads 2013-14 edition