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The original item was published from 10/2/2020 9:43:23 AM to 10/2/2020 9:44:43 AM.

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* Hampton City News

Posted on: October 2, 2020

[ARCHIVED] State group honors Hampton for communications during COVID


Oct. 2, 2020 - A state organization for local governments has named Hampton a 2020 "Local Champion" in the area of communications during the COVID-19 crisis. The award will be presented to Mayor Donnie Tuck, City Manager Mary Bunting, and the city's Marketing and Outreach department.

While most governments use Facebook as a one-way method of communicating with residents, Hampton's entry highlights how - when COVID-19 hit the nation - Hampton officials held regular Facebook Live sessions that provided information and answered questions from residents live and in real time.

“As mayor, I believe it’s crucial to be responsive to our residents," said Tuck. "I attend neighborhood and civic meetings regularly and hold Town Hall meetings quarterly. When that wasn’t possible, our team put together virtual gatherings. In an emergency like this, we reached many more people than we could have in person.”

The Virginia Municipal League highlights governments for innovation annually. This year, they changed the award to highlight work that localities and their officials and employees are doing to keep their citizens safe and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bunting noted that the award meant that "others across the state will be able to learn more about our responsiveness and innovative efforts."

The first Mayors Forum was March 17, two weeks before the city’s first case. Residents typed in questions that were read to officials who answered on-the-spot. The discussions proved popular and were expanded to add panelists, including fire, police,  and school officials, Council members, and the Health Department.

Those virtual  engagements have attracted a larger and more diverse citizenry: 266,000 during COVID-19 to date. To reach those without internet access or technology skills, all forums were also aired on Hampton's TV cable channel.

Virginia Municipal League is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization created to improve local government in urban communities. It serves as a legislative advocate for Virginia localities.

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