WashCo News October 2022

County rolls out new website design

On September 26 Washington County replaced its website with a new design promising improved capabilities. The look, feel and navigation of the redesign are meant to make access to information and online services easier. A new domain name was also created for the site at washingtoncountyor.gov.

The improvements are intended to provide

  • a more aesthetically pleasing, readable and mobile-friendly visitor experience, including enhanced search capability
  • a more efficient use of communication technology
  • and a task-based environment that allows visitors to get more business done with the County more quickly.

The design was managed by a consultant through a multi-year planning and development process that included public surveys and targeted community engagement.

Those of us who use the site frequently are noticing that it’s a work-in-progress—some pages haven’t yet been implemented, while others have been permanently eliminated. Even some county employees have been baffled as pages pop in and out of existence. But overall, the new design seems to be an improvement, particularly the search function which used to return pages and pages of mostly irrelevant results. Currently only the IT team can make changes: as more staff is trained to update pages, we expect the new site to continue improving.

The public is encouraged to contact the Project Team with any suggestions for refinements or other feedback related to the new website.

Boards & Commissions vacancies

Would you like to be more involved in getting things done in Washington County? Consider becoming a member of a Washington County board, committee, or commission. These groups advise the Board of Commissioners (BCC) on matters of interest to people who live and work in Washington County. Committees themselves do not pass ordinances to establish policy; their purpose is to study issues and make recommendations. Commission members are volunteers appointed by the BCC. In many cases, members must be residents of Washington County. Serving on an appointed board or commission is a great way for residents to participate in decisions that affect them and to learn more about how local government works.

The topics range from public safety to housing, transportation, and the Fairgounds. Check out the list and see if there’s an opportunity for you! In most cases, applications are open for about six weeks or until filled. The BCC gets a list of applicants and their qualifications and makes their choices at a Board meeting. 

Sign up for WashCo alerts

To ensure community members are informed during emergencies, Washington County encourages individuals to sign up for emergency alerts through the county’s alerting system, Everbridge, which was adopted last year.

Through Everbridge, the county and its partner first response agencies can issue emergency alerts to the entire county or to specific affected neighborhoods. Individuals who sign up will be alerted and receive critical information quickly in situations like severe weather, critical utility outages like boil water notices, missing persons, evacuations, and other public safety situations.

Getting emergency alerts gives you power to act quickly. It could save your life and the lives of your loved ones. When signing up, you can select how you want to receive time-sensitive information including on a landline phone, cell phone, email address, by text message and more. 

More information, including a Spanish version, is in this press release.

repair fair

HHS promotes Repair Fairs

Washington County Health & Human Services Solid Waste and Recycling department invites you to check out the new Repair Fair webpage with information about upcoming events and opportunities to volunteer. Repair Fairs are free community events that bring volunteers and community members together to fix broken items, teach valuable repair skills, and learn from listening and doing. Repair Fairs help the community create connections, learn skills, reduce waste, and save money. If you have nothing to repair but still want to be involved, sign up to be an event volunteer!

Sign up for the Repair Fair E-Newsletter to be notified about upcoming in-person repair events and get useful repair tips and resources. You can follow Repair Fair on Facebook. Use the Garbage and Recycling Day app to keep track of repair events in addition to your collection schedule and other waste related events.

WashCo awards $2M to hire community health workers and improve COVID-19 health literacy

The $2M in grants will be split among 12 community organizations, most primarily serving the Latinx community. The organizations are using the money to hire and pay a living wage to at least 12 new “promotores de salud,” the Spanish term for community health workers (CHWs).

The new CHWs have formed the Washington County Community Health Worker Learning Collaborative to develop culturally appropriate COVID-19 training materials and to provide peer support. They are working to dispel misinformation in the community and to provide education and resources about vaccination, testing and other COVID-19 prevention and treatment services and have already reached more than 7,000 people in Washington County. 

“This funding allowed us to hire our first full-time promotor de salud,” said Esmeralda Sanchez, Community Services Program Manager for Bienestar, a grant recipient that provides affordable housing and services to more than 2,300 people in Washington County.

As part of the learning collaborative the promotores de salud will also partner with Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center to develop a process for integrating what they learn into health care settings. 

The money for the grants came from the federal government and is part of a larger $4M award to Washington County that aims to identify and implement best practices for improving COVID-19 health literacy among underserved populations. Health literacy is a person’s ability to find, understand and use information and services to help them make health-related decisions and to take action for themselves, their families and others.

Help your community access free interpretation for government-funded services

The Washington County Office of Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement (OEICE) has developed iSpeak cards in more than 20 languages. A wallet-sized iSpeak card is used in a face-to-face situation to determine which language a person speaks so that translation/interpretation services may be provided.

Learn more about iSpeak cards here. To place an order for iSpeak cards, fill out the order form. Cards are provided FREE of charge by the OEICE.