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City departments capture national attention

Hard work paid off three times over for Albemarle city staff this month.

At the city council’s last meeting, three city divisions were recognized with state and national awards for their service to the community.

The first went to the city’s Utilities Department for excellence in electrical services.

The American Public Power Association dubbed the city a platinum-level RP3 (or Reliable Public Power Provider). The distinction was given to only 234 of their approximately 2,200 members this year, presenters stated. ElectriCities of North Carolina also awarded the department with an Excellence in Wholesale Power Costs award for maintaining some of the lowest rates in its more than 80-member power network.

“The city recently put in a new delivery point … you’ve upgraded your system from 4 (Kilovolts) to 24 KV which that allows for future load growth and reduces losses on the system,” said ElectriCities N.C. CEO Roy Jones, who presented both awards. “All that combined adds to what you can offer in a significant way.”

The city’s finance department wasn’t to be outdone, however.

The department earned a certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association — a group that analyzes such reporting in cities across the U.S. and Canada.

“This certificate of achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of government and accounting and financial reporting and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by the government and its management,” an letter from the association reads.

Along with a clean audit and healty finances, the city has to prove it clearly and inclusively communicates the city’s finances to the public.

“It’s a tremendous amount of work to get the application together,” City Manager Michael Ferris said, noting it is the first year they have done so. “People don’t usually get the award the first time around … you submit and get input on how to improve. This was very unexpected.”

As for the final award, it went to the city’s Water & Sewer system.

Bryan Hinson, superintendent of the division, received the J.A. Younts Award from the N.C. Rural Water Association.

The award — which is given in honor of one of the association’s founding members — is awarded to one person each year for exemplary dedication to the water system in their community. Hinson received the award at the association’s annual conference in Greensboro.