The Jasper County Board of Health welcomed a new board member to the fold during its first meeting of the year Thursday. Donna Akins of Baxter, is filling the seat previously held by former Jasper County Supervisor Joe Brock.
Akins previously taught English, special education and served as the curriculum director at Baxter Community School District for 33 years before retiring and serving an additional five years as the curriculum director. She will serve a three-year term on the board.
“Thank you to Donna for serving on the board,” Jasper County Treasurer and Baxter resident Doug Bishop, who was there on other business, said. “She was a great asset to our school and community, both, and thank you for stepping up to doing this.”
The board recently made a change to its meeting schedule, opting to gather every two months instead of their previous monthly meetings. For 2019, the board will meet at 11 a.m. March 14, May 9, July 11, Sept. 12 and Nov. 14 at the Jasper County Health Department, 116 W. Fourth St. S. in Newton. Margot Voshell was nominated and accepted to continue her position as chair for the board.
“(The board) is really more today than it was five years ago,” Voshell said. “It is thanks to all of you that it has really grown.”
The board reviewed a letter of support for funding the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Fund, an item put on the agenda by Jasper County Conservation Director Keri Van Zante. While Van Zante was unable to attend the meeting due to a conflicting meeting, Jasper County Health Department Director Becky Pryor said the Iowa Public Health Association is encouraging boards of health across the state to support conservation and send a letter for Funding the Natural Resource, an outdoor recreation trust fund.
“Conservation and public health go hand in hand,” Pryor said. “It talks about Iowa green spaces, water and air quality, even obesity and children living in areas with easy access to recreation. Nebraska did a study and found there was a $3 return on investment for every $1 they invested into trails and outdoor activities.”
The board tabled the vote until they were able to further read the letter of support and allow Van Zante and potentially area legislators to speak before the board.
Another agreement before the board was for the Safe Kids Worldwide Coalition agreement. Safe Kids Worldwide is a global organization dedicated to protecting children from unintentional injuries, which is the number one cause of death to children in the United States.
“We’ve been working with the Safe Kids Worldwide organization to become a Jasper County Safe Kids chapter,” Pryor said. “We work with different things including car seat training, planning a car seat event, doing a water safety event with conservation called Splash, Paddle, Dig in spring. Throughout the year we do a lot of different things with children for safety including a health fair, offering bike helmets and we are trying to bring it all together for Jasper County.”
Becoming a member of the organization could open up new grant opportunities for the county, but it also would mean dedicating staff specifically to injury prevention as a part of their workload. Pryor requested tabling the subject until the March meeting to finalize a few areas and make sure everything is done correctly.
“I feel like we are almost ready but I would like to wait until the March meeting,” Pryor said.
In other business:
• Pryor gave the board an update on the current location for the department. Nov. 6, the Jasper County Board of Supervisors approved an additional one-year lease for the building holding the health department. The lease will once again run until December of this year.
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or firstname.lastname@example.org