Helen Putnam Award
2015 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence Winners!
CCS Partnership Intergovernmental Collaboration Award
Program Title: Intergenerational Safe Routes to School Program
The City of La Mesa has been proactive in promoting walkability. Since 2010 La Mesa has partnered with the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District in La Mesa Kids Walk 'n' Roll Safe Routes to School program. Although the Walk 'n' Roll program considered parental concerns and incorporated them into the project when identifying suggested routes for eight schools in La Mesa, there continued to be parental concerns over student safety. Working with community partners, the City of La Mesa has implemented a successful intergenerational program to enhance the safety of students at critical high traffic intersections, walkways, and bus loading zones at elementary and middle schools.
Contact: Käaren McElroy, Community Services
Phone: (619) 667-1319 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Services and Economic Development
Program Title: Steinbeck Innovation Cluster
Salinas’ Industrial Cluster – dubbed the Steinbeck Innovation Cluster – leverages an innovative network of civic, academic, technological, corporate, and philanthropic partners to help youth become entrepreneurs, drive innovation in the fields and factories, and bring high tech to industrial zones. The world’s innovation experts have been focused on Smart Cities. Salinas is shifting that focus to Smart Farms, because of the importance for future Precision Agriculture. The Steinbeck Innovation Cluster is galvanizing our region’s agricultural industry, educational resources, and innovative drive – not only building local jobs and prosperity, but also cultivating a competitive industry focused on solving the world’s food, water and energy related challenges.
Contact: Joe Gunter, Mayor
Phone: (831) 758-7381 or Email: email@example.com
Economic Development through the Arts
Program Title: Old Town Newhall Arts and Entertainment District
Learn how the City of Santa Clarita successfully harnessed the arts to boost the bottom line of its oldest
neighborhood. Through investment in public infrastructure and the arts, the City of Santa Clarita transformed a town that was past its prime into the thriving Old Town Newhall Arts & Entertainment District, attracting new visitors, boosting revenue and giving the area a second chance to make a first impression. Understanding the challenges of attracting developers, merchants and visitors to Old Town Newhall was the first step in developing an effective solution. After surveying property and business owners, residents and local media, research revealed that although the community was connected to Old Town Newhall’s roots, the area lacked the arts, entertainment and nightlife amenities necessary for continued visitor attraction.
Contact: Gail Morgan, Communications Manager
Phone: (661) 255-4314 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics, & Community Involvement
Program Title: Rocklin Cares
In May of 2013, the City of Rocklin launched a centralized online volunteer recruitment portal known as “Rocklin Cares”. Having a central location to register for events on a widely known portal or website location has increased both awareness of volunteering opportunities and the number of Special Events the City of Rocklin is able to offer. Rocklin Cares is available to Businesses, Service Organizations, and Social Groups as a way to recruit and manage volunteers. Non-profit groups in Rocklin are now able to expand their search for volunteers by using the City of Rocklin’s website. The volunteer program was put in place to match community needs for senior citizens, low-income, and the disabled with community volunteers. Seniors or disabled citizens in need of repairs and maintenance are now able to rely on community support and utilize volunteer efforts. Having a centralized volunteer resource has resulted in the beautification of City property, an increase in community engagement, and improved cost savings for the City of Rocklin.
Contact: Carol Ann Whiteman, Public Services Business Manager
Phone: (916) 625-5013 or Email: CarolAnn.Whiteman@Rocklin.CA.US
Health & Wellness Programs
Program Title: Cathedral City Garden Program
The Cathedral City Garden Program is a remarkable health and wellness initiative that provides everyone from local youth to elderly residents with the opportunity to embark on a unique physical fitness and educational wellness journey. City staff offers free supplies and labor to build garden beds for local schools, over 55 communities and the Boys and Girls Club. Program participants plant and tend their own gardens. This incredibly popular program teaches kids and adults how to grow a sustainable garden, promotes healthy eating habits, and encourages physical activity. One vital function of local government is to promote a safe, healthy and sustainable way of life for its residents. Several years ago, the City Council of Cathedral City asked Deanna Pressgrove, the Environmental Conservation and Public Works Manager, to start a garden program. The concept was to locate a City-owned lot, install garden beds and invite community members to plant their own fruits and vegetables. With space to maintain and harvest your own crops, City government would be providing a healthy alternative to processed foods and store-bought produce, often grown with pesticides.
Contact: Deanna Pressgrove, Environmental Conservation and Public Works Manager
Phone: (760) 770-0369 or Email: email@example.com
Brea & Fullerton
Program Title: Brea and Fullerton Fire Resource Sharing Program
The cities of Brea and Fullerton Fire Command Resource Sharing program began in 2011 in an effort to lower costs, maintain local control and continue to provide exceptional fire services to both communities. The genesis of the initial Brea-Fullerton agreement was the work of the North Orange County Cities Coalition (NOCCC) group, which was formed in 2009 during the Great Recession. The success of the Brea-Fullerton Fire initiative, and others initiated by NOCCC has led to additional potential joint efforts, such as of animal control services, police dispatching.
Contact: Tim O’Donnell, Brea City Manager
Phone: (714) 990-7711 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
League Partners Award for Excellence in City-Business Relations
Program Title: Sanger Job Training Initiative
The Sanger Job Training Initiative is a public-private collaboration between the City of Sanger, multiple local businesses, primarily manufacturing, the area’s only community college and the county rural transit authority with the objective of enabling training in high-skills vocations to fill an unmet need for qualified applicants and to consequently reduce the chronic unemployment and underemployment among residents. Sanger is a small community in California’s San Joaquin Valley that suffers from the high, chronic unemployment and underemployment common to many other Central Valley communities where agriculture is the primary economic driver. In order to elevate the quality of life for its residents and the entire community, Sanger city officials began researching obstacles to local businesses’ ability to fill open positions requiring specialized skills.
Contact: Brian Haddix, City Manager
Phone: (559) 876-6300 or Email: email@example.com
Planning & Environmental Quality
Program Title: Dry Creek Trailhead
The City of Clovis transformed a three-acre unsightly vacant lot into a shady, educational, drought-tolerant, low-maintenance facility that captures stormwater runoff and replenishes the underground aquifer. The Dry Creek Trailhead is an innovative open space facility that tackles the issues of drought, health, air quality, land use, and planning for the future. The Trailhead is a hub that connects the extensive existing trail system and thereby encourages alternative transportation to improve health and reduce air pollution. The trails provide connection to downtown Clovis, local mass transit, recreational destination points, places of business, retail and educational facilities, and also the adjacent City of Fresno. The Trailhead includes: a parking lot, seating walls, landscape plantings, irrigation system, tables, benches, lights, pedestrian trail bridges, drinking fountains, bike racks, bike repair stations and restroom facilities. With the lack of grass, it is estimated that water usage is reduced by 85% to 90%, a savings of 3 million gallons of water per year compared to a park of similar size; staff hours are significantly decreased as well. The Trailhead is environmentally and fiscally sustainable and meets the needs of existing and future residents. The Trailhead shows that aesthetics and community open space can happen without grass and shrubs and it will set the bar for other cities seeking to preserve natural resources and improve community health.
Contact: Steve White, City Engineer
Phone: (559) 324-2350 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Program Title: Belle Haven Community Engagement
The City of Menlo Park is located in southern San Mateo County, encompassing over 13 square miles, with a population currently estimated at 32,000. The community is home to one of the most culturally and economically diverse populations in Silicon Valley. Despite being recognized nationally as the epicenter of venture capitalism, the Belle Haven neighborhood has been the focus of the city’s revitalization and redevelopment efforts since 1981. Over the past two years an extensive effort has been made to reintegrate community policing within the neighborhood in order address significant crime and violence concerns. The Menlo Park Police Department began their extensive community engagement process to coincide with the
Visioning Process. Four forums were held throughout 2013. The top concerns/issues identified were gangs, violence, traffic, and lack of a cohesive program for involving the community in the public safety strategy. These forums have continued and are conducted on a quarterly basis. The City of Menlo Park is a prime example of how a small agency, partnering with residents and private entities, can work together to create a city committed to our community. Over the past two years, it is clear that everyone is becoming an active participant in making Menlo Park a safer place to live, work and play.
Contact: Robert Jonsen, Chief of Police
Phone: (650) 330-6322 or Email: email@example.com
Program Title: Reedley Peace Building Initiative
The Reedley Peace Building Initiative (RPBI) is a restorative justice program addressing the success of our
children and health of our community. This innovative initiative is a powerful partnership between the City and community organizations that reduces violence and increases safety by keeping juvenile offenders in school and out of the juvenile justice system, reintegrating offenders back into the community as productive citizens. The Reedley Peace Building Initiative, RPBI, started in 2009 as a partnership between the Reedley Police Department and the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a global relief organization. Modelled after Fresno Pacific University’s Victim Offender Reconciliation Program, it targeted juvenile crime in Reedley. Shortly after its establishment, RPBI was introduced to Reedley High School in KCUSD, as part of a five-year plan to use it district-wide. Since then, RPBI’s core group has grown to include Reedley Peace Center, and Reedley Rotary Club.
Contact: Marc Ediger, Lieutenant
Phone: (559) 637-4250 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation
Program Title: Season of Service
City of Palmdale’s Season of Service community engagement events utilize an innovative approach to addressing real challenges – aging infrastructure, reduced staff and diminishing financial resources. The City of Palmdale realized a significant challenge during the Great Recession when the economic difficulties resulted in a significant reduction in City staff and funding levels, especially within Public Works Maintenance Division which is responsible for the staff and financial resources required for renovating and revitalizing the City’s infrastructure. Overall, the City staff was reduced from 357 to 184 with Public Works Maintenance alone experiencing an approximate reduction of fifty percent. As a result of this reduction, much of the day to day “routine” maintenance of the parks and landscapes was contracted out, leaving little staff to address the renovation and revitalization projects. The vast majority of the City’s parks are over twenty years old and highly utilized. Maintenance challenges included dilapidated fencing, sports fields with significant wear and tear, aging landscapes, outdated playgrounds and obsolete lighting fixtures.
Contact: Trish Jones, Community Programs Supervisor
Phone: (661) 267-5473 or Email: email@example.com
Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government
Program Title: Menifee Youth Advisory Committee
Menifee Youth Advisory Committee (MYAC) promotes public service and community involvement , with, for and by youth, review proposals for programs, projects and facilities as they pertain to youth; promote youth involvement in community events, programs or volunteer projects through public education, the schools and community organizations; and act in an advisory capacity to the City Council in all other policy matters pertaining to youth. The YAC is one of the stakeholders that are to be interviewed for the Park Master plan and will assist with input on history, culture, ecology, connections, and topography. An intended outcome is that the city will address health concerns with growing obesity in the area since there are limited trails, walking paths or opportunities for recreation, as well as provide an outlet for youth to get involved in programs that will keep them safe, out of trouble, and focused on positive recreation within the city and through extended city partnerships. As such, one item that has surfaced was the need for a regional park for the entire area to create a healthy, safe, and thriving environment, all community residents could enjoy to address this underlying issue.
Contact: Robert Lennox, Community Services Director
Phone: (951) 672-6777 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the Helen Putnam Award?
Each year the League of California Cities honors outstanding work in member cities across the state through the League Partner-sponsored Helen Putnam Awards for Excellence. If your city has done remarkable, innovative work in any of the 12 categories listed below now is the time to get your deserved recognition. It is an opportunity to thank your employees and collaborators, gain the appreciation of your residents and feel proud of outstanding contributions made to better your city.
The award recognizes the successes of California cities as demonstrated by beneficial innovations, resourceful efficiencies, improved public service, and overall enhanced public trust and support. The award also provides a great opportunity to have a community celebration of the good work you are doing.
Does your city have an outstanding program that delivers efficiency, quality service and innovation? Enter your program at www.helenputnam.org
to compete for the recognition it deserves.
Award categories include:
- CCS Partnership Intergovernmental Collaboration Award
- Community Services and Economic Development
- Economic Development through the Arts
- Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics, and Community Involvement
- Health and Wellness Programs
- Housing Programs and Innovations
- Internal Administration
- League Partners Award for Excellence in City-Business Relations
- Planning and Environmental Quality
- Public Safety
- Public Works, Infrastructure, Transportation
- Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government
Additionally, your city can receive the President's Advocacy Award. This prestigious award honors a distinguished program or individual that best advocates for the League's annual strategic priorities. One outstanding winner may be chosen from the 12 categories.
Your city must be a League member to apply. To qualify, simply demonstrate that your city offered a program or service that has proven measurable and successful within a minimum of one year of actual implementation. Particular attention and credit is given to applications specifically advancing the League's strategic priorities
, which are determined each year by the board of directors.
Established in 1982 by the League of California Cities, the California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program recognizes outstanding achievements by California's 482 cities. These winning cities have made unique contributions to community residents and businesses, contributions which have resulted in lower costs or more effective delivery of services. The purpose of the California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program is to recognize and promote the outstanding efforts and innovative solutions by city governments to:
- Improve the quality of life in local communities.
- Implement efficiencies in service delivery and operations.
- Provide services responsive to the local community.
Sponsored by the League Partners, the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program was designed to recognize and promote the outstanding efforts and innovative solutions made by city governments each year. For a complete list of this year's categories, please view this year's program brochure.
Award winners are recognized at the League's Annual Conference, in Western City magazine and press release notifications, on the League's website, and in presentations made to city council meetings.
Please contact Melissa Lienau at email@example.com or (916) 658-8216 with any questions.
California City Solutions
California City Solutions is a searchable collection of the League’s prestigious Helen Putnam Awards applications. This annual honor recognizes the outstanding efforts and innovative solutions designed by cities that improve the quality of life in local communities, implement efficiencies in service delivery and operations and provide services responsive to the local community. City officials are encouraged to use this searchable database to learn how their colleagues in other cities have implemented innovative solutions in the delivery of quality local services.
Archive of Winners
Who was Helen Putnam?
Helen Putnam was a mother, school teacher, principal, mayor, and county supervisor. But most of all, Helen Putnam was a person who viewed meeting one's potential as the measure of success. Excellence, to Helen Putnam, was shown by someone who did his or her very best. She was as supportive and loving of people who did their best as she was of people who did the best. To the League and to California cities, Helen Putnam defined excellence. The Award for Excellence is given in her memory.