Howard County won five awards from the National Association of Counties this week for innovative programs and services it offers to residents.
The county took home a "Best in Class" award in the Community/Economic Development category for the "Pitch Across Maryland" program, which last year sent a tour bus around the state to aid employers looking to improve pitches for new businesses.
The county was also recognized in four other categories:
• County Administration and Management – Recognized the downtown Ellicott City Parker app, which helps visitors to Historic Ellicott City find available parking.
• Environmental Protection and Energy – Recognized the "READY for Rain Gardens" program, which joined county government, environmental and nonprofit groups with local youth to to install rain gardens that would help protect the county's streams and rivers against stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces.
• Planning – Recognized the "Downtown Columbia Plan," a 30-year master plan to guide Columbia development with a focus on social, economic and environmental sustainability.
• Criminal Justice and Public Safety – Recognized the "Rural Water Supply Program," which ensures rural areas of Howard County have a sufficient water supply for extinguishing fires by placing underground cisterns in strategic locations.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman accepted the awards at NACo's annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas.
"It is when we work together and think outside the box that we accomplish the most to improve government and better serve our residents," he said in a statement.