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Focusing on community health

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

Parks, town centers and other downtown public spaces will be the focus of an April 3 community workshop and three follow-up meetings.

The idea is to continue building on Connersville as a healthy place to live and do business.

Public officials and residents will be asked to learn how to improve the community and then make plans for that in a five-hour workshop at the John Miller Community Center, Becky Marvel, community wellness coordinator, said. Marvel works through the Purdue Extension Nutrition Education Program. She is working with Discover Connersville, a downtown improvement group, to identify what local people want to make of the downtown.

The workshop’s morning session will include discussion by the entire group about what it means to live in a healthy community. Afternoon sessions will look at what local people want to see the community become.

Three followup sessions in the following months will help local people set goals, develop strategies and make plans.

Marvel said that healthy doesn’t mean just that people feel well but that options are available so that residents can make healthy choices for their own lives.

For instance, she said, that’s why the local Farmers Market started a mobile feature in 2017, taking farm-fresh food to where senior citizens live. The April 3 workshop will discuss the kinds of things that can make downtown healthier, such as using empty lots for small parks or green spaces.

In a survey, Fayette County was ranked 91st out of 92 counties in terms of what makes a health community. 

Marvel said that community conditions influence where business chooses to locate. Franklin County, just south of Fayette, ranked 42nd on the survey, making it more attractive for people to live there. In turn, that makes it more attractive to potential employers.

Connersville is one of two Indiana communities chosen to participate in a program called Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces: Creating Healthy Communities, Marvel said. It provides continuing education and resources.

The hope is that what starts downtown will spread to the rest of the community, Marvel said. She wants people from a wide variety of local interests to attend. Marvel attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Fayette County Board of Commissioners and invited them to participate. 

The free workshop, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include lunch. Advance registration is required. Contact Marvel at 765-825-8502 or send email to rjmarvel@purdue.edu.