Committee: Sustainable future key to healthier county

The Healthy Jackson County committee recently gathered to discuss challenges and strategies needed to reach its vision of a healthier Jackson County.

The meeting was facilitated by Tanya Hall, community development champion and regional educator for Purdue University Southeast.

Molly Marshall, Indiana Healthy Community champion-Jackson County, also was on hand to share information from the two-day training session she and Hall recently attended at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

“The main thing we learned is looking at the big picture,” Marshall said. “What is going to be sustainable and still be there five to 10 years from now? Have we made an impact?”

A way of modifying the environment to make healthy choices available to community members is through policy, systems and environmental change. This approach can help create sustainable, comprehensive measures to improve community health, Hall said.

Marshall said the Indiana Department of Transportation is accepting public comments on its Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which is a four-year planning document that lists all of the projects expected to be funded.

“This is the time to advocate for more active transportation projects, such as bike lanes, walking paths, pedestrian trails and multi-use paths,” she said. “INDOT is currently taking input from the community.”

As areas of need are identified, comments may be submitted on the INDOT website or by email, Marshall said.

Part of Marshall’s job is to rejuvenate the Healthy Jackson County Facebook page. Community activities and events pertaining to health and wellness will be posted periodically as information is received.

Joyce McKinney, school nurse and nursing supervisor for Brownstown Central Community School Corp., shared several opportunities taking place at the schools that are open to the public.

She said the Brownstown Central High School track is open to the public at all times unless there is a planned event or practice, and the high school building is open for community walking at 5:15 a.m. Monday through Friday year-round.

Fusion classes, which are a cross between Zumba and dance-type exercise classes, have been available at the school, too, but due to construction projects scheduled over the summer, there is no word yet as to when the classes will be conducted again.

Those attending the recent meeting were asked to participate in a mapping exercise and share working knowledge of areas and facilities that could be used for physical activity in Jackson County. Upcoming local health-related events also were discussed.

Heather VonDielingen and Richard Beckort, both with Purdue Extension Jackson County, provided an update on the efforts to bring a farmers market back to Brownstown.

“We are working with Brownstown/Ewing Main Street to revamp the Brownstown Farmers Market,” VonDielingen said. “The idea is to make it on days opposite of Seymour so there is more variety.”

The Brownstown Town Council recently met and approved use of Heritage Park for the revamped farmers market. Beckort will be the point of contact for vendors.

The market hours will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Friday from June 2 to Oct. 27.

“We are very excited, and information will be mailed out to vendors in the next few weeks,” VonDielingen said.

At a glance

Teams from Purdue University along with the local Purdue Extension office are coordinating the efforts with community partners to boost obesity prevention because Jackson County’s obesity rate was the highest in the state in 2012 at 39 percent, while Lawrence County weighed in at 38 percent.

Jackson and Lawrence counties have received a two-year, federally funded grant of $1.15 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help lower the obesity rate in both counties.

The next Healthy Jackson County meeting will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. May 3 at the Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive, Seymour.

Information: 812-358-6101 or facebook.com/healthyjacksoncounty

On the Web

The Indiana Department of Transportation is accepting public comments on its Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which is a four-year planning document that lists all of the projects expected to be funded.

Healthy Jackson County encourages people to advocate for more active transportation projects, such as bike lanes, walking paths, pedestrian trails and multi-use paths.

To submit comments, visit in.gov/indot/3132.htm or email them to  draftstip@indot.in.gov.