Forsyth County student wins 2011 county government essay contest

Rebecca Lowder, a sophomore at West Forsyth High School in Clemmons, N.C., is the winner of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners' fourth annual essay contest on county government for 9th or 10th grade students. The topic of the essay is, “How does my county government improve the lives of its citizens?”

Students were asked to write a 500-word essay on the topic, “How does my county government improve the lives of its citizens?” Rebecca and her teacher, Kirsten Russ, each won $500.

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 Cleveland County, Onslow County and Pender County.

Rebecca's winning essay focused on the role that counties play in public safety, protecting the environment and animal control, among others. The winning essay will be printed in the July edition of CountyLines, the NCACC’s monthly newspaper.

For more information about the contest, please contact Todd McGee at the NCACC at todd.mcgee@ncacc.org.

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

For a community to grow and thrive, it must have a government that effectively provides for its citizens’ needs and otherwise improves the lives of its citizens. The county in which I live, Forsyth County, is an excellent example of a community with a capable government that goes the extra mile to take care of its citizens. The main governing body of Forsyth County, The Board of Commissioners, funds and otherwise supports various departments that are each dedicated to providing helpful services for the people of Forsyth County. Through these departments, my county government improves the lives of its citizens by promoting safety and wellness, taking measures to protect the environment, and providing resources for those who are disadvantaged.

An extremely important aspect of a county’s government is the departments that provide for the safety and wellness of the people. Forsyth County’s sheriff, William T. Schatzman, helps keep citizens safe by enforcing the laws and by educating children and adults about safety. Schatzman and other officers often visit schools or other places to give helpful safety tips and discuss crime prevention. In order to promote health and wellness to Forsyth County citizens, the Department of Public Health offers free, informative clinics on important topics such as diabetes and teen pregnancy, as well as providing citizens the opportunity to receive free flu vaccinations. This service is invaluable to those who otherwise may not be able to afford to be vaccinated. Together, the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Public Health work to prevent crime and illness in Forsyth County.

With pollution so prevalent today, departments assigned to educate people about our effect on the environment are a must. The Environmental Affairs department aims to help both the earth and Forsyth County citizens. In addition to giving information on air pollution and offering fun opportunities for people to “go green”, Environmental Affairs also keeps an updated report on weather, air quality, and pollen levels. Environmental Affairs is a great resource for those who want to find out more about decreasing their carbon footprint as well as for those who suffer from asthma or severe allergies.

Lastly, Forsyth County provides many opportunities for those who have little money or are otherwise disadvantaged. Among the services offered are free assistance with taxes during tax season, free transportation for elderly and/or disabled citizens, and very affordable rabies vaccinations for pets whose owners cannot afford to have them vaccinated at a veterinarian’s office. In addition, many departments, such as the Sheriff’s Office and Social Services, frequently give to or hold fundraisers for nonprofit organizations such as food pantries or organizations that purchase Christmas presents for underprivileged children. In these and other ways, the county departments improve the lives of citizens who are disadvantaged.

Through encouraging health and safety, advocating protection of the environment, and providing aid for those who are disadvantaged, the Forsyth County government continues to improve the lives of all of its citizens.