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A body-mind connection
Proclamations mark Bike and Mental Health months
bike month

Health Department honored during Nurses Week

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. “These permanent dates reinforce the recognition of nurses as being the compassionate, experienced and trusted front line in the health field,” Barton County Administrator Phil Hathcock said.

He made the comments as the County Commission Monday approved a proclamation marking this as Nursing Week locally.

“Nurses touch the citizens of the world in thought and deed, offering hands-on care in tradition settings as well as through mobile clinics, telemedicine appointments and other means,” he said. And, “nurses must provide for physical, social and mental health needs; disease prevention; detection, diagnosis and treatment of illness; quality of life; preventable death and life expectancy while facing such challenges as financial means to pay for services; transportation and language barriers; and workforce and supplies shortages.”

At this time, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the need for and personal safety of nursing professionals in way that has not been seen in modern history, Hathcock said. 

The proclamation honors “the men and women whose diligence and professionalism keep our communities and citizens safe and that the entirety of the Barton County Health Department is thanked for their tireless efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, for taking appropriate measures that allowed for the continuation of services during this time and for providing immunizations, family planning and other public health programming.”

Rain fell from dreary skies Monday morning. Not good weather for bicycling, and not good for the moods of those feeling isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, the Barton County Commission approved a pair of proclamations calling attention to both, as well as the connection between physical and mental wellbeing. Commissioners recognized May as National Bike Month and Mental Health Awareness Month.

“It is perhaps more appropriate this year than any year in recent memory that we recognize May as Bicycle Awareness Month in Barton County,” said Dale Hogg, a local cyclist and member of the Be Well Barton County coalition. As we make our way through this COVID-19 pandemic, the reasons for making this designation are threefold.

“First, it offers a silver lining,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many people walking or on bicycles as I have in the last few weeks. There are families and individuals trying to get out of the house, get some exercise, and break the boredom of the lock downs, stay at home orders, and isolation.”

A a matter of fact, Amanda Van Skike, at Golden Belt Bicycle Company made the comment that they’ve never been so busy. “And that’s good to see,” he said.

“Secondly, it is about more than physical health,” Hogg said. “Sure, Cycling is a great form of exercise, physical exercise, but it’s great for the soul and for the spirit as well. It cleanses the body of the worry that many of us are feeling.”

This is especially important now. “In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, getting outside for exercise is not only good for one’s physical health, but also for one’s mental health as people may be facing added stress and anxiety,” he said.

And lastly, and more poignantly, it comes In light of Brandon Steinert, a Great Bend resident who was nearly killed riding his bicycle a couple of weeks back. “He’s lucky to be alive,” he said. 

“That is a stark reminder of the dangers posed on our streets and highways to cyclists,” he said. “I know every one of us who rides a bicycle, whether it’s on a county road or on a city street, has this thought in the back of our minds every time we strap on a helmet or turn a pedal.”

Next, Shanna Long with the Center for Counseling and Consultation highlighted the mind-body connection as she presented the National Mental Health Awareness Month proclamation. 

“Being here to declare that May is Mental Health Awareness Month on our local level is a great honor and comes at a very fitting time,” she said. “It is even a greater honor to be here with community partners that are looking to promote the same values that The Center for Counseling cares about.”

 The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought with it worry anxiety and change, she said.

“We have changed the way we as an agency deliver services, and how we as individuals and families live and engage in our communities,” she said. “We have been looking for ways to stay healthy, active, and engaged as families and individuals during a time when community resources are limited,” she said.

Hogg discussed an option in biking. “It is a way to relieve stress, anxiety and cleanses the body of the worry,” she said.

“Many of us working in mental health have been looking to the guidance of Psychiatrist, Dr. Bruce Perry to help ease our anxieties and worries,” Long said. He encourages people to remember to stay physically distant but emotionally close. 

And, an activity like bike riding allows you to connect with others and even yourself, while staying physically distant. 

The Center For Counseling is looking to promote awareness and connection throughout the community during this month, encouraging activities you can do from your bike or on foot, such as a green ribbon scavenger hunt, and a painted rock scavenger hunt, she said. 

“Having Biking Awareness and Mental Health Awareness recognized during the same month seems like such a good fit when you think about the benefits,” Long said. “Building connections with community partners, and community members to promote awareness and create a conversation of caring lets our community know that we will stand together during these trying times. Promoting both causes truly signifies that we are not alone and there are many ways to promote health and awareness.” 

“It is recognized that individuals living with mental illness and their families face additional challenges during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Long said. “The need for mental health services and support is clear during this time of uncertainty.”

According to the proclamation, the commission urges the citizens, government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses and schools in Barton County to stand together and recommit to increasing awareness, collaborating and promoting wellness and recovery. In addition, Barton County and its citizens are encouraged “to continue caring about, and understanding mental health needs, the steps citizens can take to protect their mental health, and the need for appropriate and accessible services for all people with mental health conditions. Caring leads to an understanding that we all stand together and no one is alone.”

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Approved a proclamation marking National Nursing Week.

• Approved a proclamation denoting May as National Bike Month.

• Approved a proclamation recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

• Approved an Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund working capital loan for First Class Auto Design, owned by Michael and Shawna Petersilie, Hoisington.

Great Plains Development has found that First Class Auto qualifies for funding under the Barton County Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund working capital loan program. The business has requested a loan of $25,000. Two full-time equivalent jobs would be retained as a result of the loan, meeting 51% of the low-to-moderate income requirement.  

It is suggested that the term of the loan be three years, 12 months interest only payments, with an interest rate of .5%, said county Grant Administrator Sue Cooper said.

• Approved Sunflower Diversified Services Early Childhood Intervention funding.

The program provides individualized services to children ages birth to three years with a developmental delay or disability, Sunflower Executive Director Jon Prescott said. “Sunflower’s professional staff serves the child in the home setting, thus including the family in the educational process.”

In the 2020 Barton County operating budget, the program was funded at $15,000. 

• Approved the Central Kansas Community Corrections fiscal year 2021 comprehensive plan submission. The Kansas Department of Corrections requires submission of a plan (grant application) each year. These documents require the review and approval of the Barton County Commission, as the administrative county for the 20th Judicial District, said CKCC Director Amy Boxberger.

The total for 2020 is $510,344.

• Approved applying for a Central Kansas Community Corrections Behavioral Health Grant.  

CKCC is applying for $25,159.55 for the grant from the Kansas Department of Corrections. The agency is requesting funds for a contractual cognitive facilitator, employment officer and for behavioral health services.

• Approved the Juvenile Services 2021 budget as prepared by Director Marissa Woodmansee totalling $602,690. The budget has been prepared based on figures provided to the Department by the Kansas Department of Corrections - Juvenile Services.

• Approved the purchase of glass partitions for the courthouse offices of the Register of Deeds and Treasurer. 

County administration has solicited bids for glass partitions to be placed in the front office areas. The partitions would be placed on current counters as a barrier between staff and the public, Hathcock said.

• Approved a change order for the construction of phase four cell at the Barton County Landfill. 

Malm Construction Company is currently constructing the cell. Once construction began, it was determined that additional excavation was needed.  Malm Construction has submitted Change Order No. 1 in the amount of $8,230 for this work, Hathcock said.

Even with this, the projected total cost of the project is $853,000, below the engineer’s original estimate of $1.1 million.