Two important agreements fell on the Carter County Commissioner’s desks this morning. One that aims to build a healthier community, while the other helps build a safer community.
The county commissioners approved a contract on behalf of the Carter County Health Department to obtain services from Susan Dillard, whom the health department hopes will be able to assist the schools in Carter County with their wellness policies.
“We want the healthy choice to be the easy choice,” said Mendy Spohn, Carter County Health Department regional administrative director. “We’re just trying to expand our ability to work in the community this fall. Our goal is to make our community a certified healthy community.”
In order to be considered certified healthy, community members, businesses, campuses, congregations, restaurants and schools have to be committed to supporting healthy choices by implementing elements, policies, and programs that will help Oklahomans eat better, move more, and be tobacco free, according to the Certified Healthy Oklahoma website. The Certified Healthy program is a statewide initiative put forth by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
By following their recommendations, Certified Healthy Oklahoma recipients receive recognition as a healthy place to live, work, learn or play. Schools and communities are also eligible for a potential incentive grant should they apply and be awarded.
The health department chose Dillard because she has past experience in working with the program and being awarded the grant. Dillard’s job is to aid area schools in meeting the criteria necessary to apply for the Healthy Certification and the grants that go along with it.
“This is all part of our community’s self-improvement planning,” Spohn said. “(This fall) we will assist schools in enhancing their wellness policies. It’s something we have been doing and working on annually for 10 years.”
Dillard will also help plan events in the community that promote health in schools, like an annual walk to school day. This year other health department officials plan to reach out to local businesses in order to improve their health standards, not only for their employees, but for their customers as well. Spohn said these could be things like deciding to stop allowing employees and customers to smoke on property, to having better menu choices at your restaurant.
Last year, none of the cities in Carter County were deemed a healthy community— something Spohn hopes to change in the coming years.
According to a CHO 2016 report, the number of communities to apply for the CHO certification has doubled since the program began in 2011. Last year, 95 cities were awarded the certification out of 116 that applied. Some of these were in counties that surround Carter. Murray, Johnston, Marshall, and Stephens Counties all had at least one community that earned the CHO certification.
Any incorporated city is able to apply for the certification so long as they can prove that they promote wellness, encourage the adoption of healthy behaviors, and establish safe and supportive environments. This must be done through the implementation of ordinances, policies, programs, and procedures that reach all residents of the community.
In 2015, Oklahoma ranked 45 on America’s Health Rankings. This state led initiative hopes to combat that.
Carter County will employ Dillard from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31 and pay her $25 an hour, but not exceed $9,950 for the entire contract period.
In other actions, the Carter County Commissioners approved a motion at their regular meeting Monday morning that solidified the contract between the Carter County jail and the city of Ardmore to house their prisoners for the next year.
Ardmore’s city commissioners agreed to pay the county a base amount of $135,000 a year to house the city’s prisoners. That sum was approved at the city’s July 17 meeting.
Commissioners also agreed to enter a cooperative agreement with the Chickasaw Nation, which allows the county to help repair roads that are Chickasaw property. The Chickasaw Nation will be required to provide the materials and the county will donate the equipment, their time, and their men to help repair damaged roads in their area.