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Published on Jul 03, 2019

Five cities recognized with an AWC Municipal Excellence Award

Contact: Brian Daskam

Five cities awarded for excellence at AWC’s Annual Conference
Watch the award videos here.

OLYMPIA – City leaders from 148 cities and towns across Washington convened in Spokane in June for the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) Annual Conference. During the conference, AWC honored five cities with a Municipal Excellence Award.

“This year’s winners applied innovative solutions to issues in their communities,” said Peter B. King, AWC Chief Executive Officer. “Their efforts have improved lives in their communities and serve as inspiration for civic leaders throughout the state.”

Chosen from 33 applications, the 2019 AWC Municipal Excellence Award winners are:

Kent: Municipal DUI Court – Changing Behavior, Saving Lives
The City of Kent has been successfully reducing incarceration rates and recidivism among its highest-risk, repeat DUI offenders through its Municipal DUI Court. This innovative program provides an alternative path to lengthy jail time for re-offenders by focusing on substance-abuse treatment and accountability. Participants spend at least two years in the program, which includes frequent court appearances, random drug/alcohol testing, treatment, support groups, and community service. The program is saving the city significant incarceration costs while improving community safety.

Lakewood: Rental Housing Safety Program
The City of Lakewood is safe-guarding the living conditions of hundreds of residents through its Rental Housing Safety Program (RHSP). The program requires rental property owners to register with the city, pay a license fee, and receive regular health and safety property inspections. The city tracks inspection results and issues certificates of compliance through an online data portal. Since its inception, the program has led to the correction of hundreds of safety issues and resulted in closure of several unsafe rental units and relocation of those residents to safer housing. The RHSP has spurred reinvestment into existing housing stock, bolstering the local economy.

Olympia: Crisis Response Unit and Familiar Faces
The City of Olympia is going beyond traditional policing to help community members in crisis, many of whom are part of the city’s homeless population. The Olympia Police Department (OPD) operates a mobile Crisis Response Unit staffed by mental health and substance use disorder professionals who can be dispatched directly to police or fire calls and help connect individuals to social service providers. Through its Familiar Faces program, peer navigators use street outreach to build supportive relationships with vulnerable individuals and connect them to community resources. OPD’s teams work with the City’s Homeless Outreach Response Coordinator as part of the city’s efforts to address the growing problem of homelessness.

Pasco: Hot Spotters Program
The City of Pasco Hot Spotters Program brings together first responders, the legal community, mental health and health providers, community housing organizations, and state agencies to improve services for community members who frequently use mental health and social services and emergency response. Working collaboratively, Hot Spotters partners aim to coordinate care and stabilize high risk individuals in their community. The Hot Spotters Program has led to embedding mental health professionals with the Pasco Police Department, reducing incidents involving use of force by police officers. Hot Spotters Program partners are also working toward a housing project for high risk individuals in the community.

Selah: Volunteer Park
The City of Selah developed an all-inclusive playground and park, inspired by a local family whose son battled a brain tumor that took his mobility and eventually his life. With grants from state recreation programs, city funding, and local contributions, Volunteer Park is one of only two all-inclusive playgrounds east of the Cascades. Two years of challenging work involved designing for diverse physical and mental disabilities and needs, as well as replacing contaminated soil on the site. The park creates an essential learning experience for youth on how to play with others, regardless of their ability.

“We are happy to recognize these winners for their truly excellent projects,” said King. “These five communities exemplify the innovation and professionalism of Washington’s cities and towns.”

AWC serves its members through advocacy, education, and services. Founded in 1933, AWC is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation that represents Washington's cities and towns before the state legislature, the state executive branch, and with regulatory agencies. Membership is voluntary, yet AWC consistently maintains 100 percent participation from Washington’s 281 cities and towns.

AWC also provides training, data and publications, and programs such as the AWC Employee Benefit Trust, AWC Risk Management Service Agency, AWC Workers’ Comp Retro Program, AWC Drug and Alcohol Consortium, and the AWC GIS Consortium.

Media contact:
Brian Daskam
Communications Manager
(360) 890-6844

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