Wayne County might receive more funding to combat top causes of death for local residents.

Indiana General Assembly approved additional public health support starting next year.   

Christine Stinson, Wayne County Health Department’s executive director, told commissioners at their May 10 meeting that the county’s second-lowest life expectancy, poverty and other factors means it qualifies for the highest amount of spending per capita.

Additional core services beyond what Wayne County currently offers must be provided. For instance, smoking cessation is a priority, especially during pregnancy, and a tobacco coalition is to be created. 

Greatest causes of death will be targeted, especially heart disease often associated with smoking. Additional priorities likely will include diabetic counseling and services, healthy eating, and exercise.

Stinson said adding activity to a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t require joining a gym. She said Hoosiers still consume the calories farmers did, but farmers burned them off. 

WCHD would meet with other potential partner organizations to determine community needs and try to contract services with them rather than adding staff.

A public-facing dashboard will allow the community to see work being done.

Commissioners also briefly addressed another public health issue that had been thoroughly discussed in previous meetings. Jeff Plasterer and Mary Anne Butters voted to extend the syringe exchange program through June 30, 2025. Brad Dwenger voted no.

Commissioners had to repeat their vote taken during the May 3 meeting because it was not unanimous.

In other business

Commissioners also:

Learned about data gathered from cellphones as visitors enter and depart Wayne County Fairgrounds to potentially be used to increase tourism. Last year, about 81,000 visitors entered about 220,000 times. Reports provide ZIP codes for visitors’ cellphone bills and list visitors’ previous location and immediate destination after leaving the fairgrounds.

Discussed a concern from a man who bought a property at a 2022 deed sale a few days before the City of Richmond demolished an unsafe building. He didn’t receive ownership documents for several more days. He’s now facing a $4,260 lien from the City of Richmond for the demolition. Plasterer said Richmond officials also have agreed to examine the issue.

Learned the county received additional funding from Indiana Department of Transportation for projects on Sample and Waterfall roads.

Discussed implementing a color-coded parking lot assignment for employees that was developed a few years earlier but paused because of enforcement concerns. 

Heard from Auditor Mark Hoelscher about employee credit card usage policies and enforcement. Commissioners and department heads shared concerns about some taxes that might not easily be waived.

Canceled their May 31 meeting unless pressing business develops.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 17 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.