The future of the Statewide Health Improvement Program in Freeborn County is unclear, but local public health officials said they are trying to stay hopeful the county will be selected to receive funding for the second phase of the program.
Freeborn County SHIP Coordinator Ellen Kehr said the first phase of SHIP will be completed across the state on Dec. 30, and Freeborn County was allocated about $4,400 through the end of the year — just enough to continue minimal SHIP activities and to apply for the second phase of funding.
Kehr said this means she will be working about 12 hours a week from October through December, writing a grant for funding to be turned in by the end of October. Toward the middle or end of November, she should find out if the county has been granted any of the $17 million in state funds that have been approved by the Legislature for SHIP during the next biennium.
The state is also waiting to hear back if it will receive a federal grant for more money.
“If they choose strictly on population, we will not get one,” Kehr said. “But if they choose on body of work, we should get one. Southeast Minnesota did a tremendous body of work during this first phase.”
She said that Greater Minnesota cities like Albert Lea, Glenville and Alden bring an innate connectedness that’s difficult to find in metro cities. This connectedness means people are used to working together and making change happen quicker.
She wanted to reassure the community that vitality initiatives will continue regardless of what happens with SHIP, though SHIP was a nice partner to have in those endeavors.
Since July 2009, Freeborn County has received a total of $260,000 through the SHIP program, of which $160,000 has gone toward grants, $80,000 toward salaries and $20,000 toward marketing materials.
Kehr said she hopes the state looks at the partners SHIP has worked with and the collaboration that has been done locally to get projects done.
SHIP money has gone toward everything ranging from disc golf courses, to bike lanes to trail signage. It has also supported healthy eating in the county’s school districts, work site wellness and even school gardens.
“We’re going to stay hopeful that we will be able to get a phase two of SHIP,” Kehr said.
No one on the state level has indicated how the $17 million will be dispersed.
What has SHIP money gone toward in Freeborn County?
• Disc golf courses at Riverland Community College in Albert Lea and at North Park in Alden.
• Signage and bike racks along the Blazing Star Trail.
• Part of the installation of bike lanes on Front Street.
• Kiosks on the walking paths around Fountain Lake.
• “Share the Road” signage to be installed around Fountain Lake.
• Healthy snack carts in Albert Lea schools.
• Steamers for Alden-Conger and Glenville-Emmons schools.
• Food service training for all food service personnel in public schools in Freeborn County.
• Work site wellness support for companies working to become tobacco-free.
• Refrigerators and healthy foods for Freeborn County employees.
• A program at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea that addresses how to keep people with chronic conditions out of hospitals and in their homes.
• Evaluations for a spinning program offered at the Albert Lea Family Y to any middle school student in need of extra physical activity.
• School garden at Halverson Elementary School.
• Marketing, brochures and other resources.
• Development of website healthyfreeborncounty.org.
So far …
SHIP money spent in Freeborn County since July 2009:
Marketing, website, brochures: $20,000
Total money given to Freeborn County: $260,000http://www.albertleatribune.com/2011...of-ship