The National Association of Counties’ (NACo) version of the Academy Awards isn’t quite as glamorous as the real thing, but it does offer appreciation for county programs across the country that have made real contributions to people’s lives every year.

Recently, the NCACC North Carolina Association of County Commissioners honored the award-winning committee of county leaders that have been handling the national opioid settlement – and also honored 48 other North Carolina county programs that just won a 2022 NACo Achievement Award.

The NACo Achievement Awards program recognizes innovative county government programs.

The “5-5-5 Committee,” which has been addressing the major drug case settlement in North Carolina, was one winner.  It consists of five county commissioners, five county managers and five county attorneys from across the state – thus the name.  The committee included former Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne, who retired at the end of 2021, and includes Forsyth County Attorney Gordon Watkins.

The 5-5-5 Committee is a specially appointed opioid settlement working group created to develop a statewide plan to best use the massive funds coming to North Carolina from national opioid settlements.

NCACC Executive Director Kevin Leonard offered the following comment on the honor, “We are so appreciative of the incredible dedication shown by the county commissioners, managers, and attorneys on the 5-5-5 Committee. Along with the North Carolina Attorney General’s office, they worked diligently to design an agreement that ensures national opioid litigation settlement proceeds are distributed in a way that maximizes funds flowing to North Carolina communities on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. This is an exciting and transformational time in North Carolina, and the NCACC is grateful to be able to support all 100 counties.”

Other award winners this year were Catawba County’s Hmong Keeb Kwm: The Hmong Heritage Project, which won “Best In Category” in Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation. In that program, the Catawba County Library worked with the Hmong community, the Historical Association and Digital Heritage NC to “collect, curate, and preserve a digital collection of the twentieth-century history of Hmong migration and community-building within the region.” Catawba County is just northwest of Charlotte.

Union County, just southeast of Charlotte, won an award for its 2050 Comprehensive Plan, which won “Best In Category” honors for County Planning.

Union County has experienced explosive growth in recent years and, at times, it was the fastest-growing county in the state – and among the fastest growing in the entire country. To prepare for future growth, the Union County Board of Commissioners developed a 30-year plan with the help of residents, business leaders, non-profit organizations and other stakeholders to plan out the county’s course for three decades.