Stories

Negotiating safety every day

Melissa Adames Emergency responders conjure images of firefighters or police officers. Rarely do procurement contracting managers like Melissa Adames come to mind. When the time came to upgrade Miami-Dade County's two-way radio system, which allows emergency and non-emergency personnel from multiple jurisdictions to communicate, Melissa played a vital role. She's part of the team -- consisting of staff from the departments of Procurement ManagementEnterprise Technology Services and the County Attorney's Office -- that helped negotiate a deal to acquire a system that meets federal post-9/11 interoperability requirements. The deal they structured saved the County $50 million, and more importantly, the communication system will save countless lives.

Showing youth the way every day

Latawun Bess

For as long as she could remember, Latawun Bess wanted to work with children. During a typical week as the supervisor of a unit of juvenile assessment counselors for the Juvenile Services Department (JSD), she works on cases involving dozens of children who've had a brush with the law. She's a believer in second and even third chances if a child and family are willing to work with the legal, social services and educational community.

Of the 3,794 children last year who've participated in JSD's prevention and intervention programs, 83 percent did so successfully. JSD's holistic approach -- modeled nationally and internationally -- is why the juvenile arrest rate in Miami-Dade is 58 percent lower than in 1998.

Managing hidden risks every day

 
Safety Officer Robert Marton implemented an infection control program at County jails that's cut inmate-to-workers infection cases from 24 to 1 between 2006 and 2010.

In 2006, when 24 Corrections workers caught infections from inmates, which resulted in $38,000 in treatment costs, the department brought in safety officer Robert Marton of General Services Administration's Risk Management team to help. Marton implemented a comprehensive infection control program that brought down the number of infected workers to one, and reduced treatment costs 93 percent.

Inmates and officers are now trained on infection awareness. The program's cost: $0. Marton recently earned the 2011 Heroes of Infection Prevention Award from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

Investing in dreams every day

 
Trust account manager Adela Garcia helped turn $25 million in bonds into $40 million that has financed nearly 300 affordable homes.

As a trust account manager, Adela Garcia knows that timing is everything when it comes to financial markets. She’s part of the Housing Finance Authority team that runs the Single Family Homeownership Program. At a time when almost no one was in the bond market, they seized on a narrow window of opportunity to issue $25 million in tax-exempt bonds and leveraged another $15 million to finance 300 low-interest home mortgages since last year.

Through this program, families gain a sense of pride in owning their own home, neighborhoods benefit from community stability — and the tax benefits don’t hurt either. Since 1980, Miami-Dade County has sold $1.777 billion in bonds used to finance mortgages for thousands of Miami-Dade homeowners.

Finding resolutions every day

 
On a typical day, Consumer Protection Investigative Analyst Isabel Cruz helps 80 residents resolve their consumer-related issues.

These days, being able to wear different hats at work is a good skill for County employees to have. In Isabel Cruz's case, it's essential to her job as a Consumer Protection Investigative Analyst for Miami-Dade County's Consumer Services Department (CSD).

On a typical day, Isabel speaks with up to 80 residents, helping them resolve consumer-related issues. For the fourth year in a row, CSD's Mediation Center has recovered more than $1 million for County consumers.

Safeguarding neighborhoods every day

 
Christopher Albury Each day, neighborhood compliance supervisor Christopher Albury and his team of inspectors go looking for trouble -- trouble caused by neglected foreclosed properties. Vacant homes bring down property values and can cause all sorts of problems. That's why Foreclosure Registry Program inspectors fan out to secure homes and make neighborhoods safer.

The program addresses immediate concerns, like broken windows and busted doorways, and makes lenders accountable for maintaining vacant properties. Since the program started in July 2009, more than 17,000 properties have been registered and inspected!

Paying the bills on time every day

 
Deborah Dean

Deborah Dean, an account clerk at the Government Information Center, takes prompt payment seriously. She understands that businesses -- especially small ones -- rely on timely payments from their clients to stay afloat. That's why 96% of her department's invoices are paid within 30 days! Windows Media link That means more cash flow for local businesses to invest in their workforce and innovation.

The County processes 280,000 invoices a year. Last year, the Finance department challenged departments to process payments faster -- changing the target from 45 days to 30 days. That's an efficiency with real impact for our local economy.

Protecting consumers every day

 
Cathy Forte-Heredia

Few feelings are worse than feeling like you didn't get what you paid for. Sometimes, business transactions don't go as planned. That's when Cathy Forte-Heredia and her peers at the Consumer Services Department's Mediation Division are committed to making things right. Last year, they recovered over $1 million in reimbursements for consumers. The team resolved 5,207 complaints last year -- at no charge to the consumer. That's a big win for this community!

Giving residents a ray of hope every day

Michelle Rodriguez

Michelle Rodriguez's door is always open. That's because by the time many of her clients reach her Community Action Agency location, they've experienced one closed door after another. Rodriguez supervises a team that helps keep the lights on and the gas flowing Windows Media link when people just can't make ends meet in their households.

In 2010, more than 49,000 low-income Miami-Dade County residents  received $14.6 million in energy assistance through this program. For them, Rodriguez and her team are a ray of hope during a financial storm.

Restoring safety & comfort every day

 
Corey Jones

As project manager for the Community Action Agency's Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program Windows Media logo (SHARP), Corey Jones does more than help restore homes. He helps restore a sense of safety and comfort to the elderly clients he serves when time has taken a toll on their homes.

Since 2008, SHARP has made repairs and upgrades to 31 homes in unincorporated Miami-Dade. It's rewarding work but not the kind you find in packages. It's the kind you see in the eyes of the homeowners when their homes have been transformed.

Saving you money every day

 
Marcia Steelman

Miami-Dade property owners saved more than $23.4 million on flood insurance in 2009 thanks to Marcia Steelman and her peers at the Department of Environmental Resources Management.

They labored tirelessly to ensure the County's flood control program received high ratings from Washington. Their work led to an average of $100 in savings per flood insurance policy for residents in unincorporated areas. That's a result that matters to residents and their wallets!

Developing healthy lifestyles every day

Daryl Miller

As one of Park and Recreation's trained mentors, Daryl Miller plays a huge role in the lives of children through the department's Fit-to-Play Program.

Miller helps instill good habits in children ages 6-14 through proper nutrition, healthy physical activity and good citizenship. His good works led to recent recognition by the Miami Children's Trust.

Since 1957, Parks has provided year-round out-of-school programs to nearly one million children. Among the programs provided are summer, winter and spring break camps, as well as after-school programs.

Serving with compassion every day

 
On a typical Saturday, Jessika Presinal introduces 15 pets to their new adoptive parents.

On a typical Saturday, Jessika Presinal introduces 15 pets to their new adoptive parents.

Jessika tags about 40 animals on a typical day, and she knows tagging is critical in keeping families and their furry friends united.

Last year, they were responsible for nearly 14,000 pets being in the loving care of a family.

 

Quenching your thirst every day

 
WASD Chemist Marjorie Jolly makes sure your water is not only clean and safe to drink, but blows federal, state and local standards out of the water!

WASD Chemist Marjorie Jolly makes sure your water is not only clean and safe to drink but it blows federal, state and local standards out of the water! 

Technology, smart planning & a strong commitment to quality. That's how we made Forbes.com's top 10 list for cities with clean drinking water.

Moving the community every day

On a typical day, Metrorail Operator Terry Brit drives 3,000 passengers glad with his melodic "smooth railing" greetings.

Meet Terry. On a typical day, Metrorail Operator Terry Brit drives 3,000 passengers glad with his melodic "smooth railing" greetings.  

He's just one example of how Miami-Dade Transit gets 300,000 people daily to where they want to go.

 

Teaching self-reliance every day

As a special projects administrator, Maria Garza has helped 70 migrant farm workers gain full time employment.

Maria Garza never misses an opportunity to help someone help themselves. She serves the local migrant worker community as a coordinator for the County's Farmworker Jobs and Education Project (FJEP).

Last year, The FJEP helped more than 400 immigrants get tutoring and job training. Garza is committed to the cause -- she's a tireless supporter of access to education for all.

Diving for excellence every day

Joe Armao and Daniel Machado routinely defy danger, diving into cramped underwater spaces with zero visibility to make sure you can turn on your water and flush your toilet. Joe Armao and Daniel Machado play critical roles in keeping our water clean and our sewers working. As divers with the Water and Sewer Department, they inspect all of Miami-Dade County's underwater pipeline installations so we can turn on our water and flush the toilet.

The work is dangerous, often requiring them to work in cramped spaces with zero visibility. Armao reminds us, ''People have no idea how hard County employees work to deliver services in this community.''

 

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