Cleveland County student wins 2010 county government essay contest

A 10th grade student at Cleveland Early College High School in Shelby has won a statewide essay contest on county government. Brandon Ruppe and his former 10th grade civics teacher, Joe Rountree, each won $500 for Brandon’s winning essay. The contest was open to 10th grade classes in North Carolina public and charter schools. Students were asked to write a 500-word essay on the topic, “How does my county government improve the lives of its citizens?”

In 2004, the Association Board of Directors adopted five strategic goals. One of these goals is to inform the public and the media about the role of county government. In 2008, as part of the Association’s Centennial Celebration, the Board of Directors approved the annual essay contest to encourage students and teachers to focus on county government in the classroom. Previous winners have been from Onslow County and Pender County.

“As a former teacher and principal in the Cleveland County School System, I am very excited and honored that one of our own is the winner of this year’s essay contest,” said NCACC President Mary Accor, a Cleveland County Commissioner. “We want to thank Joe for encouraging his students to learn more about county government by participating in this contest, and we congratulate Brandon for winning the essay contest.”

Brandon’s winning essay focused on the role that counties play in public education, public safety and public health. The essay will be posted on the NCACC’s county government education web site, www.welcometoyourcounty.org, and will be printed in the April edition of CountyLines, the NCACC’s monthly newspaper. The site is designed for civics teachers and students who would like to learn more about county government and contains information on why counties and county governments exist, where counties receive their funding, what services they provide, who runs county governments, and more.

The essay contest will be held again for 10th grade students in the spring of 2011.

For more information on the contest or the Web site, please contact Todd McGee, NCACC Communications Director, at (919) 715-7336 or todd.mcgee@ncacc.org.

How does my county government improve the lives of its citizens?

Cleveland County provides an excellent example of how a county enhances the lives of its citizens. Although bipartisan, Cleveland County’s board of commissioners is exemplary, due to their willingness to work together. The commissioners see to Cleveland County’s needs and make the important decisions that benefit its citizens. Cleveland County provides an array of services. The most important of these services are public education, the local Sheriff’s Department, and the health care system.

Education is one of the primary focuses in Cleveland County. According to the County Manager’s Budget Message, education comes second only to public safety in Cleveland County. Cleveland County is home to 29 public K-12 schools and three colleges. These include Cleveland Early College High School (CECHS). CECHS is a recent addition to the Cleveland County school system. It offers students the chance to graduate with a High School Diploma and an Associate’s Degree within five years. This will improve the lives of citizens in Cleveland County.

Cleveland County’s Sheriff’s Department employs many programs that maintain public safety. One such program is Neighborhood Watch, which provides peace of mind for communities. The Sheriff’s Department uses the Neighborhood Watch program to create a partnership between communities and law enforcement. This prevents crimes in neighborhoods. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or D.A.R.E, is another program that the Sheriff’s Department offers for crime prevention. D.A.R.E is currently taught at seven of the 16 elementary schools in Cleveland County. This program teaches children about drug abuse and presents alternatives to crime and violence.

“To assure, enhance, and protect the health of all citizens through education and prevention,” is the mission statement of the Cleveland County Health Department. The Cleveland County Health Department provides numerous services through different professionals including physicians, dentists and social workers. The health department also extends prevention programs and job opportunities to teenagers and young adults in Cleveland County. One such prevention program is the Community Organization for Drug Abuse Prevention, also known as CODAP. CODAP is designed to prevent drug abuse in the Cleveland County area. A survey states that drug abuse in the county has decreased from 2006 to 2009 with due credit to CODAP. The health department also extends the chance to job shadow health professionals through the Code Teen program. Code Teen is intended to educate students, who apply, about different healthcare careers. This allows them to follow a professional in a career of their interest.

Cleveland County’s education system, the Sheriff’s Department, and the Health Department all provide services that assist the citizens of Cleveland County. The school system provides a future for the young people in the county. The Sheriff’s Department provides protection to all those who reside in Cleveland County. The Health Department supports the well being of the county’s citizens. Despite the economic downfall, Cleveland County will continue to be an exceptional place to live as long as these services are provided.