The Ottumwa Courier


May 11, 2012

Still more Blue Zones work to do

Ottumwa shows weakness in policy-making and community engagement

OTTUMWA — There’s room for improvement in the next several months before the second round of Blue Zones finalists are announced.

Wapello County Public Health Clinical Director Lynelle Diers said a Healthways representative came to Ottumwa this week to discuss the community’s application and site visit to be designated as a Blue Zones-certified community.

The Blue Zones Project is the cornerstone of Gov. Terry Branstad’s Healthiest State Initiative, with the goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.

Healthways teamed up with Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield for the initiative.

According to Healthways, there was a very small margin between the 11 communities chosen for site visits, Diers said, and Blue Zones officials were impressed with all 11.

“He said we still need to work on community engagement and get that increased,” Diers said, such as the requirement that workplaces have at least 25 percent of their employees committed and engaged in the process.

“They’re looking to see which communities are really ready to go forward right now,” Diers said.

Healthways also wanted to see more policy engagement, “which is a huge piece in order to be a certified Blue Zones community,” Diers said.

“They want us to make stronger rules and regulations policy changes, like no smoking in multi-housing units, which is part of our community transformation grant,” Diers said.

Wapello County Public Health received the $88,000 grant with five other counties in southeast Iowa from the Iowa Department of Public Health through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Funds from the grant will also be used to install bike racks on Ottumwa Transit buses, Diers said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health worked with 26 different counties in the state, including seven in southeast Iowa. The five southeast Iowa counties were chosen for the grant “because of our high stroke and heart attack rates,” Diers said.

But Ottumwa displayed many strong qualities, though, Diers said, including the schools and the media.

“He would like to see us work more with the media to get the message out and a campaign going,” Diers said. “But he was delighted to see public health involved so heavily with the schools, because there are some areas where they’re not involved.”

And with statistical information gathered from each of the 11 communities chosen for site visits, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index will re-survey those communities, and the results will be used as a baseline so communities can look back on them two years later to see where changes have been made and where work still needs to be done.

The six communities not selected as demonstration sites last Friday will be automatically thrown into the second round, Diers said. Ottumwa will not have to re-apply, but it can update its application.

“After the application process, they’ll select 12 communities for site visits again in October and November,” Diers said. “Out of those 12, in January they’ll select six more communities as demonstration sites. And that will be it.”

Diers also said one person from Ottumwa will be able to come up to the Blue Zones Institute to review materials provided in each community’s tool kit along with the other communities originally chosen for site visits.

“They’re still pushing us forward,” Diers said. “We’ll start using those tools and become a Blue Zone-certified community. And we’ll start getting information to workplaces, schools and restaurants so they’re aware of what it’s going to take.”

Text Only
  • City Council approves sale of properties OTTUMWA — On Tuesday the Ottumwa City Council met for the last regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included in the agenda for the evening were several dispositions of city owned property. Structures and land located at 519 W. Fourth St., 723 E. Mar

    April 15, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 Right side up monster truck pic Nice driver --- mean machine OTTUMWA --- Drivers sat at one end of their vehicles during the "pit party," meeting fans and signing autographs before the motorsport and monster truck exhibition at Bridge View Center this weekend. Monster truck driver Orville Hill let kids --- and

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0415 OTT Composting ethical pic Recycling in a garden OTTUMWA --- Parents will tell you: They hate to see kids waste food. A gardner named Scott Koepke feels the same way. “First, let’s get our food to people who are going to eat it,” he said. “It hurts me to see kids in the schools throw away an entire

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0412 OTT Pothole color photo -T -M [Duplicate] A bumper crop of potholes OTTUMWA — The nice weather has been putting the bad roads on display. Officials say good: It gives us a chance to fix them. “Every city is going through the same thing,” said Larry Seals, Ottumwa Public Works director. “It has been an unusual winter

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home in a tent OTTUMWA -- As people live without shelter, they become desperate finding a place to sleep. The situation impacts more than just the community's homeless. "There is nowhere to put people who are homeless," said Mary Margaret Butler. "Nowhere." Ottumwa

    April 11, 2014

  • 0412 OTT Martha Speaks color photo -T -M Ottumwa children visited by cartoon star OTTUMWA — Iowa Public Television is celebrating its 45-year anniversary this year by helping communities like Ottumwa educate young children before they get into a school setting. One of the programs they are using to help reach out to children is by

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • United Way expanding on Corporate Community Garden OTTUMWA — The United Way of Wapello County created its Corporate Community Garden last year as a way to donate locally grown food to community members in need, and after a successful first year, it's hoping to expand the garden’s impact in its second

    April 11, 2014

  • City Council to discuss several property sales OTTUMWA -- The Ottumwa City Council will meet Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall for its second and final regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included on the agenda for the evening, among various other items, are several public hearings on t

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers wanted for playground construction OTTUMWA — Wildwood Park in Ottumwa is going to be the recipient of some rather significant playground upgrades in the near future, but in order for the construction of the new equipment to be free for taxpayers, there has to be enough volunteer power

    April 10, 2014

AP National