Renovations began in July 2011 on the former Powder Springs Station shopping center to create the Cobb Senior Services Senior Wellness Center. Within 10 years, one in five residents will be eligible for this center, which will include a fitness studio, weight room, classrooms, teaching kitchen, café and a clinic for under-insured seniors aged 55 or older. It is estimated that public participation at this location will be 10,000 visits per month. Programming and services will be provided through partnerships with WellStar, Cobb Douglas Public Health, Vision Rehabilitation Services, Ridgeview Institute and the Marietta Lions Club. New furnishings will be paid for by local fundraising through the selling of bricks, benches and room naming rights. The ribbon cutting is slated for late summer 2012. Progress on the center can be viewed at cobbseniors.org.
Several large projects opened this year, including the courthouse and parking deck projects. With the help of our Property Management Department, these large projects were completed ahead of time and within budget. We were the first in the county to be awarded a LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for the new Superior Court Building.
Electronic auction of county surplus materials in Fiscal Year 2011 resulted in more than $323,150 in revenues. The Mail Services Department participated in a state mail services contract which will save an estimated $65,000 in postage in Fiscal Year 2012.
In April 2010, the Purchasing Department conducted a printing services cost analysis based on the county’s printing copies, paper, monthly lease, equipment maintenance and labor costs. The outsourcing of printing services initiated during Fiscal Year 2011 resulted in a savings of approximately $334,000.
Cobb Senior Services received grant funds to start a pilot program called Care Transitions designed to offer assistance to senior citizens aged 60 or older who have recently been released from the hospital. Seniors will receive a package of services to support their continued recovery and reduce the possibility of their return to the hospital for the same ailment within a 30-day period. Services include home delivered meals, homemaker services and transportation to follow-up medical appointments. The program is operated in collaboration with the Atlanta Regional Commission, Cobb Senior Services and WellStar Cobb hospitals. To register, call 404-463-3159.
Purchasing sites on the Internet and the Cobb Web were, with Communication’s assistance, revised and updated during the year. Additionally, Department of Transportation plan holder lists and addenda published on the site. The Web site continues to ensure that all bid documents are available for PDF download to the vendor community.
The program “Generations: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” provides supportive services to eligible Cobb County grandparents age 60 and older, who are raising grandchildren or other minor relatives. This program is a partnership with Cobb Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department. Monthly group meetings often include community speakers who have resources for the families, while the children are enjoying supervised activities in the South Cobb Recreation Center. Call 770 528-5355 for more information.
Keep Cobb Beautiful was honored at the state and national level for its numerous community programs this past year. Both Keep Georgia Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful selected it as a first place affiliate. The Georgia Urban Forest Council presented it with its Outstanding Greenspace Plan grand award for its Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield tree planting program. Other Keep Georgia Beautiful awards included first, second and third places for the tree planting program as well as the two-day park cleanup and Adopt-A-Gateway program.
Keep Cobb Beautiful held more than 800 litter prevention events, more than 100 recycling events and more than 30 beautification events during the year. This work included the participation of more than 16,000 volunteers.
The library system became a partner in a national grant awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Service to develop Web resources that would make access to electronic government easier for library patrons. The Cobb County Public Library System, the only partner from Georgia, is working with other libraries across the United States on this project. Cobb library system’s E-Government Committee and Emerging Technology Advisory Group developed an e-government Web page that provides easier access to government information, forms and services.
The number of library system volunteers increased this year. More than 1,300 people volunteered at our libraries. These volunteers, who have many skills and talents, provided assistance by shelving library materials, working at book sales and helping with programs. During the year, the Friends of the Library, a library volunteer organization, held two book sales at Jim Miller Park. The events raised more than $60,000. The Friends’ special book sale which included comic books, antique books and special collectible items raised more than $4,000. This year an “ongoing” book sale was established at each library. More than $6,000 has been raised from these sales.
The library system hosted two exhibits from Kennesaw State University’s Museum of History and Holocaust Education. The “Parallel Journeys: World War II and the Holocaust through the Eyes of Teens” exhibit told stories from the perspective of young adults. The “Tuskegee Airman: the Segregated Skies of World War II” exhibit explored the history and heroism of the first African American pilots to fly combat during the war. Library staff participated in the KSU program on Family Bibles, a program that was part of KSU’s “When God Became English” exhibit. Library staff presented information on how the Bible is used in genealogical research.
The library system received national grants for special programs and services. “In a Nutshell: the Worlds of Maurice Sendak” was a national traveling exhibit made possible through a grant from American Library Association with the Charles H. Revson Foundation. The exhibit explored illustrations and books of the renowned author and illustrator, perhaps best known for his book “Where the Wild Things Are.”
The county continues to address cost cutting by eliminating printing in various ways. The payroll department offered to email employees who have direct deposit, avoiding the need to print and distribute thousands of stubs. The Water Department began offering customers the ability to sign up for eBill, saving the county printing and postage costs. Additionally, finance reports were distributed electronically to all departments.
Our Property Management group upgraded its energy management application. The application, known as EnergyCap, helps monitor energy usage and billing across the many buildings of the county. The newer system allows the county to automatically import all of utility bills into the system for analysis. By closely monitoring our energy use, we can find ways to decrease use and save the county money.
Property Management handles about 550 work orders every month recently had only seven more than 30 days old. The maintenance group is pioneering remote monitoring on outdoor condensing units with pressure monitoring systems to effectively reduce losses from copper thieves. This is especially effective with buildings that we have moved out of during some of the recent budget cutbacks. Serious savings have taken place with reductions in temperatures, water usage and water heating.
Fleet Department Installed enhanced vapor recovery at two fuel islands as part of an Environmental Protection Division mandate and added remote monitoring or two additional fuel islands to monitor fuel levels.
The Board of Elections and Voter registration reworked its delivery of state mandated poll worker training in order to combine curriculum from several required classes into one class, thus realizing a 25 percent savings in compensation expenses.
Property Management has made strides under its new makeup, utilizing more part-time staff with inmates in lieu of full-time and contract labor. It has shifted some of the resources to grounds maintenance as well and upgraded the capability of grounds maintenance equipment to improve its effectiveness.
The County Clerk’s Office has upgraded the LaserFiche document imaging system, which includes enhancements to make documents easier to find and view by the public. The department has added several years’ worth of agendas and minutes to the system.
In September, Cobb County became the last county in the state to discontinue transmitting unofficial election results from each polling place on election night. Ending this optional procedure eliminated 42 steps from the poll closing instructions and will result in continued time and cost savings in future elections.
The Georgia Public Library Service and Zoo Atlanta partnered to provide all state libraries with the Zoo Atlanta Family Pass for checkout to adults with valid library cards. Also, the state library system partnered with Georgia Department of Natural Resources to provide all its libraries with park passes for checkout to adults with valid library cards. These very popular programs made it possible for patrons to visit state parks and historic sites as well as to discover the value of wildlife and the importance of conservation while visiting the zoo.
Georgia Public Library Service selected the Cobb County system to host a “meet and greet” with the character made famous in Ludwig Bemelmans' beloved children's story, “Madeline.” Participating children heard stories in French and English.
Summer readers were rewarded with special performances by the Georgia Ballet and Theater in the Square. Cobb Energy Performing Art Centre made it possible for summer readers to participate in a drawing to attend a performance of the globally recognized performing group, The Wiggles.
Several county departments provided special programs for library patrons. Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department provide multiple events including a very popular program on bugs. Extension Services conducted a program on the rain forest, and its 4-H club presented puppet shows. Fire and Emergency Services Department talked about fire safety. The police department’s Gang Prevention Taskforce held its own presentation. A program on global water conservation was presented by Cobb County’s Water System. Cobb’s E-911 conducted story times for children. The Communications Department edited the library system’s DVD concerning available services and library staff teamed up with Keep Cobb Beautiful to provide battery recycling containers in all libraries.