Will County board member leading National Association of Counties

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Tickets are available for an Aug. 20 celebration in honor of Will County Board Member Denise Winfrey becoming president of the National Association of Counties (NACo).

Will County board member Herbert Brooks, Jr., administered Winfrey’s oath of office, according to NACo. The celebration will begin 6 p.m. at the Jacob Henry Mansion in Joliet. Tickets are $100.

Winfrey said the president is initially elected as a second vice president and then moves up in office over a four-year period.

“So I made a four-year commitment when I agreed to run for second vice president,” Winfrey said.

Founded in 1935, National Association of Counties (NACo) unites counties across the U.S. to advocate in federal policymaking, “optimize county and taxpayer resources and cost savings” as well as “promote exemplary county policies and practices” along with enriching “the public’s understanding of country government, the NACo website said.

So even if local residents haven’t heard of NACo, Winfrey said Will County involvement on this level is good for Will County especially since NACo is nonpartisan and not “any particular side of the aisle.”

“We are on the side of what works for counties and what they say they want the government to do for them,” Winfrey said.

For instance, NACo helped write the final treasures rules for the American Rescue Plan Act “to help counties get back on track to help get the economy flowing.”

Winfrey said federal funds typically go to the individual states and that individual counties often don’t see the money or that the states “dribble it out” to them.

But in the case of ARPA, the counties receive the money directly so they could “spend the money in the way that’s best for residents,” Winfrey said.

Will County received $134 million. Projects must be planned by Dec. 31, 2024, and the money must be spent by Dec. 31, 2026, according to NACo.

The Herald-News reported on March 2, that Will County will spend about $50 million of its allocation on local infrastructure improvements, $30 million on health purposes, $25 million on economic development efforts, $10 million on revenue replacement for the county government, and $18 million on other unmet needs.

“Our goal in Will County is, as much as possible, to invest in the kinds of things that will give us a longer-term impact for the people,” Winfrey said.

Some projects currently being discussed are sanitation upgrades and ensuring broadband access to everyone, she said,

“Elected officials are doing a lot more than people know,” Winfrey said.

Will County is also hosting the 2022 NACo fall board of directors meeting and Large Urban County Symposium from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, which will include showcasing Will County to see “what we do and what we have to offer,” Winfrey said.

Some of Will County’s offerings other counties “might want to copy” include the drug court, mental heath court, veterans court and the newly opened Amy, Matthew & Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Winfrey said.

Winfrey also referenced the time when Warren Sharpe Community Center on Joliet’s southside was invited to Washington, D.C., for a tour of first lady Michelle Obama’s Kitchen Garden.

Winfrey has served on NACo’s Large Urban County Caucus; Healthy Counties Advisory Board; Community, Economic and Workforce Development Policy Steering Committee; International Economic Development Task Force; Resilient Counties Advisory Board; and Membership Standing Committee, NACo said.

She is a member of the Women of NACo and the National Organization of Black County Officials and a graduate of NACo’s High Performance Leadership Academy, NACo said.

“So here I am now,” Winfrey said. “Now I’ve got to do the work that goes along with it.”

To buy tickets for Illinois Celebrates Denise Winfrey, NACo President, visit denisewinfreyleads.org/events.

For more information on NACo, visit naco.org.

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August 7, 2022 at 01:54PM

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