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Goodhue named county of the year

Goodhue County has been recognized for its efforts to create and maintain a safe workplace.

Last week, Goodhue County was named county of the year by the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust, a statewide entity that provides county governments with risk management services and casualty, property and workers' compensation coverage.

MCIT chose Goodhue as the 2010 recipient from among MCIT's membership, which includes 81 of the state's 87 counties and more than 400 other related organizations. This is the first time Goodhue County has received the award.

"For me, it's a recognition that we've made the effort to make the county safe for the citizens and the employees," said Melissa Cushing, the county's human resources director.

Cushing was involved in one of the county's major initiatives in 2010 -- rewriting its safety policies, which hadn't been updated since the 1990s. The process took a lot of staff time and effort, Cushing said, but allowed for a chance to re-evaluate the policies and make sure they are comprehensive.

The county also has participated in training for employees and department heads on safety and human resources services, and has a safety committee that finds ways to reduce accidents and injuries for both employees and citizens, said Scott Arneson, county administrator.

"It really is a cumulative building of their efforts," said Robyn Sykes, the executive director for MCIT.

The MCIT provides benefits for the counties, mainly pooling all its members to provide workers' compensation and other risk coverage at a lower rate, Arneson said.

MCIT also holds training sessions and assists its members with finding dangers in their systems or with lawsuits that occur, Cushing said.

The county's collaboration among departments and employees was a factor that made it stand out, Sykes said.

"Goodhue County ... realizes that things like safety and risk management are not just the responsibility of one department or one person," Sykes said. "It's really a team effort."

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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