WTD’s ‘Bright Ideas’ employee idea program successful second year

WTD Bright IdeasBest-Run GovernmentThis fall, Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) celebrated the two-year anniversary of its Bright Ideas program which encourages employees to submit their ideas for efficiencies and continuous improvement through an online tool.

Since the program started, almost 700 ideas to create a more efficient, productive workplace were submitted – which indicates a solid level of interest and engagement in the program among employees. Approved ideas have created notable improvements in many areas, such as: streamlined processes for customers; money-saving approaches to maintenance; solutions to equipment issues; and better communication with people from the public.

WTD Division Director Pam Elardo announced employee recognition awards for especially creative or impactful ideas (as voted on by an employee committee) at a series of All Hands meetings in November-December 2014. Individuals with winning ideas (or who have made considerable contributions of time to the program) were awarded Bright Ideas ‘brag swag’ items such as stickers, idea notebooks, and water bottles. WTD’s director’s office will continue to recognize employees for contributing ideas and utilize internal communications tools (posters, emails, articles in newsletters) to maintain employee interest and engagement into the future.

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Volunteering is personal for this employee

Peggy HarrisPeggy Harris had always volunteered, but 15 years ago her volunteering became more personal.

After her grandson was diagnosed at birth with Isolaveric Acidemia, a rare genetic disorder, Harris joined Washington State’s Newborn Screening Advisory Committee, a committee that advocates for certain tests performed at birth to detect treatable genetic diseases.

“At that time my grandson’s disorder was not tested for in Washington State, so I became very active in that committee,” Harris said.

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Camping cargo container article is most viewed in 2014

Cargo camper

Parks, recycling and camping proved to be an intriguing combination for King County employees and residents who made an article about a cargo container that was “upcycled” into a camping accommodation the most-read King County employee news story in 2014.

The article “Parks upcycles cargo container for use by campers” received 2,529 views, more than twice as many as the second-most read article, “Former Marine finds new way to serve community,” which was read more than 1,000 times. Coming in third was an article about Dan Johnson, a Systems Engineer with King County’s Department of Information Technology, and his guide dog Faber, which was read almost 800 times.

View a slideshow of the top 10 employee news stories for 2014 here

‘Tough Love’ shows how a treatment court can help struggling parents change their lives

Equity and OpportunityFilmmaker Stephanie Wang-Breal wanted to give voice to a group of people who rarely have one — parents who have lost their children to the state welfare system because of alleged neglect or abuse. What resulted is a powerful new documentary – at times tender, at other times raw – that offers an intimate glimpse into the child welfare system.

Called “Tough Love,” the 83-minute film profiles two parents in two different parts of the country struggling to put their lives back together and to prove to court and state officials that they should be reunited with their children. It has particular meaning to people in King County. One of the parents profiled is a quiet, sturdy man named Patrick Brown, a North Bend resident who lost his daughter due to neglect and then went through a rigorous, two-year program at the King County Family Treatment Court to get her back. He was represented by two county public defenders, Alena Ciecko and Patricia Penn.

The film played to a nearly packed house at the SIFF Uptown Theater in September, a screening that drew judges, public defenders, employees from the Family Treatment Court and others to the Queen Anne theater. A panel discussion that included both Brown and Ciecko followed.

A panel discussion followed the screening of "Tough Love" at the Uptown. From left are Patrick Brown, Alena Ciecko, Judge Julia Garratt and Judge Patricia Clark. Photo by Leslie Brown.

A panel discussion followed the screening of “Tough Love” at the Uptown. From left are Patrick Brown, Alena Ciecko, Judge Julia Garratt and Judge Patricia Clark. Photo by Leslie Brown.

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RCECC takes lead in emergency response coordination, but we all have a role to play

Best-Run GovernmentKing County’s Regional Communication and Emergency Coordination Center (RCECC) is the nerve center for disaster preparedness and emergency response planning in and around our region.rcecc pic

“We’re set up to coordinate response and recovery efforts during a local emergency or disaster,” Lynne Miller, the Public Information Officer for King County Office of Emergency Management (KCOEM), said.

The RCECC, housed in a building able to withstand major earthquakes, serves as a coordination hub for situational awareness, strategic planning, resource management, and public information.

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WTD Bright Ideas winner and finalists in the WEF Operations Ingenuity Contest

WTD Bright Ideas winnerThe Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) “Bright Ideas” program is a system for continuous improvement through employee ideas. Employees can submit and track their ideas through an online tool.

This year, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), an international wastewater industry leader, awarded Stanley Caberto, master industrial maintenance mechanic, the “Gadget Guru Award for Resourcefulness” for three inventions he created that help keep vital facilities running smoothly.

Also included in the Ingenuity contest as finalists who found “an imaginative, inventive and resourceful solution to a pesky problem”: 1) WTD’s branding team who developed the “Protecting Our Waters: Doing Our Part on Rainy Days” campaign for our combined sewer overflow (CSO) program to improve how we teach people about CSOs; and 2) Annie Kolb-Nelson, communications and media relations specialist, for her work leading the development of the “Flushing Awesome” campaign which teaches people what not to flush.

2015 MLK Calendars Available Starting December 8

We are thrilled folks love the King County calendars and await them eagerly. We appreciate your patience! Calendars will start arriving to distribution points during the week of December 8, 2014. We are unable to deliver to each office, so please check below for your nearest distribution point.

EMPLOYEES OUTSIDE THE DOWNTOWN AREA: Calendars will be delivered to county offices outside the downtown area, so please wait for the delivery. If you do not have a calendar by December 16, please call 206-263-2444 and we will direct you to a location where you can pick up a calendar.

EMPLOYEES ON THE DOWNTOWN CAMPUS: Calendars will be available at distribution points after they are delivered December 8. Please go to the nearest distribution point to get your calendar.

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Metro’s wreckers: always at the ready

Regional TransitDay or night, King County Metro Transit’s wreckers respond to trouble calls and emergencies. They push, pull, lift, or tow, whatever it takes to get buses and traffic moving and Metro’s riders to their destinations.

Metro has single wreckers stationed at each of its outlying bus bases (North, East, and South), but Atlantic Base has two—referred to as Atlantic 1 and Atlantic 2—to support the three Seattle core bases (Ryerson, Central, and Atlantic) and the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. These downtown Seattle wreckers and their crews have their work cut out for them, including responding to the needs of a “mature” trolley fleet, diesel buses from two bases, and the unique demands of the tunnel.

Atlantic Base mechanic Dave Bankson, left, uses the wrecker to lift a disabled bus while Central Base mechanic Walter Olson removes a damaged tire.

Atlantic Base mechanic Dave Bankson, left, uses the wrecker to lift a disabled bus while Central Base mechanic Walter Olson removes a damaged tire.

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County’s Investment Officer prioritizes financial safety

Best-Run GovernmentAs the County’s Investment Officer, Mike Smith manages an investment portfolio worth an average of $5 billion.  With the safety of $5 billion at stake, Mike depends heavily on assistance from his colleagues Christine Denis and Josh Freese in managing the King County Investment Pool.

In keeping with the County’s goals of financial stewardship and being the best-run government in the nation, Smith and his colleagues focus on the three ideals for public investing: safety, liquidity, and return.

“You want to keep the principal safe, you want to make sure money is always available to pay the bills, and thirdly you want to make sure you earn a return on it,” Smith said.

Mike Smith

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Five Questions with Cynthia Hernandez, Project/Program Manager IV, DNRP

Cynthia Hernandez1. What was your first role at King County? I was hired to work as the Correspondence Manager for County Executive Ron Sims when he first became Executive in 1997. In those days most constituent correspondence came as paper mail addressed to the Executive, so I coordinated with departments to get those letters answered. I did some community engagement ghostwriting for the Executive on everything from proclamations and recognitions to talking points and book chapters. I also wrote the first “customer service” policies we had for responding to constituent inquiries and oversaw the development of the first constituent tracking database used by the Executive Office. It was a very interesting job, which gave me the advantage of working closely with Executive Sims and a great team of staffers, while also providing me a unique vantage point to learn about the breadth and depth of county services and offices, as well as the people behind them.

2. What do you do as a Program Manager IV for DNRP? DNRP has a proud history of excellence in the performance of its mission and has been on the leading edge of service delivery for decades. In 2000, the DNRP Director’s Office undertook a reorganization that embraced many of the tenets of Lean, including standard work and continuous improvement. I was asked to join the office to help standardize a departmental approach to Public Records responses and records management, and to facilitate continuity and alignment across the department and externally to the central county on a variety of initiatives, which over the years ranged from the Health Reform Initiative to Green Fleets, from Emergency Preparedness to Customer Service. Currently, my primary areas of focus are on maturing our Records Management and Public Records response practices across the department, and leading DNRP’s efforts to maximize the use of office space as part of the King Street Center Space Efficiencies Project. I also serve on a number of countywide cross teams working on the development of a variety of policies and plans.

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