In a Council visioning session, Pickens County’s six Council Members outlined the overarching goals to direct county operations. One of those goals is to promote a culture of public service. This has since been an important overarching theme for our county operations and has led to new initiatives to bring new public servants on board, invest in our current employees, and give back to the community through volunteer opportunities.
Recognizing the importance of providing efficient medical and fire services to our citizens, the Fire Service and EMS departments have been top priorities for County Council this budget year.
To best provide these essential services, new positions have been created for FY 2023 and Pickens County is actively “Hiring Heroes!” With a focus on the unique opportunities provided to first responders in Pickens County, such as the specialized training offered to provide services in our county’s range of natural features from lakes to mountains, new EMS personnel and fire service personnel are joining the team each week until the all new positions are filled.
These first responders are truly community heroes answering calls around the clock to serve our communities.
Leadership Enhancement Academy for Public Servants
In addition to adding to our number of public servants, Pickens County is also investing in the continuing education of our current employees.
This summer, the Leadership Enhancement Academy for Public Servants (LEAPS), a program designed to help aspiring leaders in public service develop a road map for success, offered opportunities to hone leadership skills and build relationships with coworkers over the span of seven weeks.
The inaugural class of 20 participants representing 15 different county departments learned from both industry professionals and leaders outside of county government.
Weekly discussions allowed participants to get to know colleagues in other departments and expand their professional network.
Each participant was paired with a mentor who graduated from the NACo Leadership Academy for optimum leadership growth. Many participants found the information provided informative and the opportunity to get to know colleagues both personally enjoyable and professionally beneficial. Already, the connections made during the course have facilitated opportunities to collaborate and better serve our citizens.
Public Employee Service Corps
The idea of public service does not end when Pickens County employees leave the office or work site. In fact, many of our employees actively volunteer in our community.
Now, thanks to a new collaborative program with the United Way of Pickens County, the Public Employee Service Corps (PESC) allows our county staff a mechanism to volunteer their time after business hours to continue to serve the community. It has also facilitated additional relationship-building opportunities between county staff from a wide variety of departments. Since PESC was established this summer, many employees have volunteered their time as reading buddies for United Way’s Camp iRock, stuffed backpacks with school supplies, and offered outdoor trash and debris removal for medically fragile adults.
The trash and debris removal project arose from a code complaint received by our County’s Environmental Enforcement department. Rather than continue to fine the homeowners for code violations that were clearly beyond their ability to address, the PESC scheduled days and times for volunteers to lend a helping hand to their neighbors. As additional opportunities for service arise, the PESC volunteers will continue to answer the call.
Through this focus on public service, Pickens County strives to provide effective essential services with the right attitude. Rather than waiting for someone else to come along and fill the gap, our county staff consistently rises to the occasion. As our County Administrator, Ken Roper, often quotes,
“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”
We are public servants. Whether the job is to respond to an emergency, encourage colleagues as they grow into their leadership potential, or volunteer to meet a need in the community, we feel the call to be everyday heroes and answer that call wholeheartedly.