Clarke County Public Health recently received a $10,000 grant from the Wellmark Foundation to develop and implement a new Bike Share program in the city of Osceola. The program, set to launch in the Spring of 2017, will give residents access to bicycles to rent for exercise and activities throughout town. With the City’s recent efforts in improving and developing a more robust trail system and ongoing sidewalk improvements, the bike share program adds to health and wellness activities available to the community.

osceola wellmark bike share programIn the most recent community health needs assessment, performed in the Summer of 2015, Clarke County public health discovered that inactivity and overweight citizens plagued Osceola and the surrounding communities. According to 30% of Clarke County’s population is obese with 28% physically inactive. These statistics inspired Mackenzie Hickenbottom, Clarke County Public Health Administrator, and health educator, Stephanie Shields, to meet with City leadership, the Parks and Recreation Board, the Board of Health, Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC), as well as the Clarke County Supervisors to propose the bike share program and build support.

In order to receive the grant, an application was submitted to the Wellmark Foundation answering multiple questions on how the bike share program would benefit the community. The Wellmark Foundation then put the grant application and information on their website for a public vote. It was open for review for months and through votes submitted by the community as well as shares and connections made through social media, the award was won. The grant notification was received in December of 2016.

Once the Wellmark Foundation grant was received and the materials for the bike share were on-hand, the group realized they were $1,570 short for the final equipment and implementation costs. So, at the February 8th CCDC Board meeting, a grant to cover the remaining costs was approved. This allowed the program to move forward to hit their target date of an April or May launch for the program.

It was a lot of hard work and collaboration, but we’re pleased to have received the grant and excited to get the program rolling this spring,” said Stephanie Shields, health educator at Clarke County Public Health.”

In early Spring, citizens can watch for the bikes and installation of the program at the Clarke County Courthouse on the Osceola square. The courthouse area was chosen because of its central location as well as existing security cameras and ample lighting. Membership models for the program will range from monthly fee rates to annual options, giving members 24-hour access to the bikes. While waivers will need to be signed by members, insurance for the bikes and equipment will be handled through Clarke County Public Health.

This is just one more exciting collaborative effort between our community and Wellmark in providing access to a healthy lifestyle for our citizens,” said Bill Trickey, Executive Director of CCDC,

First it was the Wellmark, City, CCDC collaboration for the Safe Route from the elementary school to the High School Middle School complex. This summer, the Safe Routes plan will be expanded. The City, CCDC, and Osceola Chamber Main Street teamed up for the Q Pond trail program, providing a major portion of the funding to augment the Chamber’s proceeds from its fall fund raising dinners. Then the Rotary stepped up with matching money for the Outdoor Exercise stations at Q Pond which were installed last year.

And now we’re close to being ready to move ahead on the trail from the Elementary School to East Lake Park. Which also means collaboration with Clarke County Conservation,” said Trickey,  “The bicycle sharing program becomes yet another Wellmark collaborative effort with the Health Department and CCDC.”

For more information about Clarke County Public Health or the Bike Share Program, contact Mackenzie Hickenbottom, Clarke County Public Health Administrator at 144 W Jefferson Street, Osceola, Iowa 50213, or call (641) 342-3724.

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