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County board hears updates on healthy living, tobacco and obesity grants

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WORTHINGTON -- With a $367,000 grant from the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and a $420,000 grant from ClearWay Minnesota, Nobles-Rock Community Health Services will concentrate its message on healthy eating, active living and tobacco control over the next few years.

In a discussion with Nobles County Commissioners during Tuesday's regularly scheduled board meeting, NRCHS health educator Paula Anderson spoke about CHIP -- the Community Health Improvement Program -- and the methods it will use to target obesity and tobacco use.

"The obesity epidemic costs employers more than $12 billion per year," said Anderson, adding that workers often are less productive and have increased absenteeism. Childhood obesity has tripled in the last decade, she added.

Each day in Minnesota, 70 deaths are attributed to chronic diseases due to overweight and obese issues.

"We have to make it just like brushing your teeth -- you have to do (exercise) every day," Anderson said.

With the SHIP funding, Anderson said NRCHS will work primarily with schools, focusing on vending machines and school lunch programs.

As for the ClearWay grant, she said NRCHS is collecting data on the feasibility of requiring 24-hour smoke-free daycares. At this time, Minnesota law states smoking is not allowed inside a daycare during normal business hours.

"We are also assessing apartment smoking issues," Anderson said.

With approximately 634,000 Minnesotans who smoke, Anderson said it costs the state $2 billion annually in health care costs and is to blame for 5,500 deaths each year in the state.

As state health agencies continue their efforts to reduce smoking -- their latest proposal is to increase the tobacco tax by $1 per pack -- Anderson said tobacco companies spend roughly $190 million each year in Minnesota to lure new smokers to their products.

"We have to educate people on why a tobacco tax increase is important," she said. "We haven't raised the tobacco tax for five years.

"Ultimately, the whole goal is to save lives and decrease the amount of healthcare costs," she added.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved a not-to-exceed budget of $14,500 for Vetter-Johnson Architects to conduct a study on the Nobles County Library building in Worthington. The study will look at the feasibility of expansion and remodeling of the existing facility.
  • Approved first-quarter appropriations of $7,239 for RSVP, $7,000 for the Nobles County Historical Society and $1,875 for the Nobles County Art Center; and an annual appropriation for $2,975 for the Manna Food Pantry.
  • Named Stacie Golombiecki as the interim director of the Nobles County Family Service Agency, following the resignation of Mary Fischer. Fischer served as shared director between Pipestone and Nobles counties, and resigned effective Tuesday to accept a different job.

    A committee planned to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss the issue further with Pipestone County. Nobles County is contracted with Pipestone County for director services.

  • Received an annual report from the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council. The agency provides programming to displaced and unemployed individuals in a 14-county area.

    Linda McCorquodale, who works with the dislocated worker program, spent considerable time working with employees of Farley's & Sathers following the announcement of the closing of the production, shipping and warehousing departments at the Round Lake company. Both stimulus and special funds were received to help the displaced workers.

    "We've had dribbling layoffs the past few years, but we haven't had a huge blip of big companies," McCorquodale said. "This last year has been bad across the 14 counties."

  • Approved a contract between the county and the Private Industry Council for supported employment services for MFIP (Minnesota Family Investment Program) participants.
  • Approved a request to declare a 1975 Snogo rotary snow blower as surplus property in the Nobles County Public Works department. The blower will be sold through the sealed bid process.
  • Approved receipt of a 2010 Veterans Service Enhancement grant. The funds will be used to purchase software, a scanner and a laptop computer to aid in the processing of applications for veterans programming.
  • Appointed doctors Paul Trites and Ross Tucker as deputy coroners.
Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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