Federal, state and Cobb County officials cut the ribbon on the new Marietta Veterans Field Service Office in October. The new office at 1150 Powder Springs St., Suite 350, provides a local bureau for veterans to receive benefits counseling and claims assistance. During the event, Cobb County also announced the future construction of a veteran’s memorial on the location’s property.
Cobb County Senior Services was awarded Community Development Block Grant funds for fiscal year 2014-2015 for the purchase of two 13-passenger vehicles to provide transportation to medical facilities and grocery stores for Cobb residents age 60 and above.
During the past year, Senior Services provided 47,383 round-trip rides to senior neighborhood centers, medical facilities and grocery stores.
Senior Services conducted the first Aging by Design Summit at the Cobb Galleria in April. Prior to the summit, three sessions on Alzheimer’s/dementia, housing and elder abuse were conducted. In total, more than 500 people attended these summit-related events.
The county Meals on Wheels program provided 50,271 home-delivered meals to housebound seniors on 5,271 routes. Volunteers provided 17,488 hours of services valued at $394,354 to Senior Services in 2014.
Senior Services works with care transition coaches at Atlanta Regional Commission to help reduce recidivism of patients returning to the hospital. Through this partnership with ARC and social workers at designated hospitals, we were able to provide frozen meals and medical transportation for 238 seniors leaving the hospital.
The Senior Services Information and Referral line is manned by fully-trained specialists who answered questions and provided resources for more than 4,400 calls during the past year.
In conjunction with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, Cobb Elections began accepting online voter registration applications. New applications and changes to existing voter registrations can now be submitted on the Web site mvp.sos.ga.gov or by downloading a mobile application called GA Votes to Apple or Android devices.
The library system’s Summer Reading Program collaboration with the Cobb County School District expanded in 2014 with the addition of the Smyrna Public Library and Marietta City Schools. Almost 9,000 children registered to participate in the program.
Library employees developed a data platform for assessing participation levels in the Summer Reading activities of students from schools across the county. The data is a foundation for continuing to enhance literacy program planning. School media specialists and representatives from the two library systems collaborated to create a consistent message about the value of summer reading and developed a county-wide reading list. Online registration for the summer reading program was added in 2014. By the end of the summer, the number of books Cobb youths reported reading surpassed 225,000.
The library system also hosted a pilot program this summer designed to support young female students, ages 11 to 15, interested in technology careers. “Cobb GEMS: Girls in Engineering, Math and Science” was held in June and July at Switzer Library, and more than 35 young women participated in the program. Nine three-hour, hands-on workshops were held during the summer, with sessions on Web development, coding, robotics, 3-D printing and other tech topics. The program was bolstered by sessions featuring about two dozen women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In partnership with Cobb PARKS, the library system developed a library at the new Windy Hill Therapeutic Community Center, which provides special services for Cobb residents with disabilities. In addition to collaborating with PARKS on delivering special programs, such as book clubs and computer classes, the library’s involvement with the center has been supported with funding from the Cobb Library Foundation and Georgia Public Library Service.
Community support for the library system, including donations of books, DVDs and other items, and support from the Cobb Library Foundation go far in supporting collection development. The library system raised more than $80,000 from book sale events in Fiscal Year 2014. The ongoing book sales held in each library brought in $21,000. Proceeds from the $100,000 raised overall made possible the purchase of materials for the Library System. The Cobb Library Foundation donated $25,000 for the purchase of books and digital resources.
The library system continues to adapt to the growth of digital engagement by patrons while also providing traditional print resources. In 2014, there were 2.1 million books, more than 393,000 DVDs/videos and more than 160,000 audiobooks borrowed. In a few years, from 2010 to 2014, the total of digital downloads from the library system has increased from 43,620 in 2010 to 229,048 in 2014. Patrons with limited access to computers also used services offered by the Library System, including using public computers at library locations. Library patrons used the public computers more than 250,000 hours in Fiscal Year 2014.
September is Library Card Sign-up Month throughout the United States. In 2014, the Library System’s outreach team worked directly with Marietta City and Cobb County schools to encourage students to get library cards during sign-up month. There was an increase of about 500 people signing up for library cards in September over the same month in 2013.
Fleet Management received several recognitions this year from 100 Best Fleet’s in North America and was ranked high for Green Fleet in North America. These awards are symbols of the county’s efforts provide cost efficient services using industry best practices. Cobb Fleet is committed to environmental responsibility and stewardship by implementing innovative green ideas such as the use of biodiesel, burning waste oil for heat, purchasing electric vehicles and reducing of the county’s carbon footprint through effective management of the vehicle fleet.
Fleet Management installed a new lift in the truck shop. The new piece of equipment has increased the shop production by 35 percent. This lift has allowed staff to go from 37 percent of preventive maintenance services completed within 48 hours in 2013 to 72 percent completed within the same deadline in 2014. The reduced downtime allows for public safety, support services (Water, Transportation, PARKS and Senior Services) and many smaller departments to continue helping residents more.
Fleet Management installed 2 charging stations in support of new electric vehicles, which will provide cost savings on gasoline, maintenance and reinforce the county's commitment to the environment. Fleet is also working with Georgia Environmental Finance Authority to install electric charging stations throughout the county for public access. This is another way Fleet Management helps the public reduce dependency on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Cobb Fleet expedited the outfitting of 55 new police vehicles by hiring a mobile installation company, which demonstrates the county’s commitment to Public Safety and all our customers. This new procedure reduced the time preparing new vehicles with equipment and expedited delivery of safer vehicles to the Police Department.
The Information Services Department built a virtual data center environment capable of deploying up to 350 virtual servers. This move to a virtual environment reduces the number of physical servers, thereby reducing space requirements, improving server uptime and performance and reducing maintenance costs. A total of 190 physical servers have been moved to the virtual environment and the equipment decommissioned in 2014. To date this has resulted in a savings of $14,000 per year in maintenance costs.
Information Services also made improvements to the backbone communications and data infrastructure for the county. As part of this project, Information Services implemented a proactive network monitoring solution which allows 24-hour monitoring of the network to prevent, identify and quickly resolve any issues that could potentially impact county systems and applications.
Upgrades to the county’s Geographic Information System provided additional sites and capabilities for users this year. More Web mapping sites were rolled out including the “What’s in it for me?” site which allows residents to access information on various Department of Transportation projects currently underway across the county. This site was enhanced to allow use by the visually-impaired. Another upgraded site is the GIS Data Sales Web site which allows businesses and the public to locate, order and pay for all GIS data available from the county. A third site providing national pipeline data was developed specifically for the Cobb County Fire Department for emergency management activities.
Information Services upgraded the county’s email system to Exchange 2010 which makes management of the email system more efficient. The email system was also moved into the virtualized data center to provide increased reliability.
Purchase of access to a cloud-based technology benchmarking service for state, local and education entities paid immediate dividends in 2014. A $103,000 savings will be realized over five years when a vendor’s original support proposal was negotiated down based on market research from comparable clients provided by this new benchmarking service.
Bar code membership cards were deployed in Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs locations making registration and checking in quicker and more efficient for patrons.
The Code Enforcement Division of Community Development, in addition to regular routes, coordinated and conducted seven focused “sweeps” with local public safety personnel, code officials and other entities. The purpose of the sweeps is to provide a focused and concentrated effort to improve areas that are in various states of decline due to a lack of property maintenance. The premise is that maintained properties will assist in increasing safety in an area by removing negative perceptions. This includes city partnerships with Marietta, Smyrna and Powder Springs.