Report Evaluates the County’s State Rank for Health Outcomes and Improvement Opportunities
ST. JOHN, KS – For 2016, Stafford County ranks 33rd in the state, compared to the approximately 100 other Kansas counties, an increase from last year in the 2016 County Health Rankings.
For 2016, Johnson County ranked as the healthiest county in Kansas and Wyandotte County ranked as the least healthy county, according to the seventh annual County Health Rankings, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). The Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
The Rankings are an easy-to-use snapshot comparing the health of nearly every county in the nation. The local-level data allows each state to see how its counties compare on more than 30 factors that influence health including education, housing, jobs, smoking, access to healthy food, and more.
According to the 2016 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Kansas, starting with most healthy, are Johnson County, followed by Thomas County, Logan County, Pottawatomie County, and Doniphan County. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Wyandotte County, Labette County, Decatur County, Cherokee County, and Wilson County.
“The 2016 ranking is a huge improvement from last year. Live Well Stafford County has been striving to promote more active and healthy lifestyles within our communities through activities such as 5K and 1 mile run and walks, collaborating with our schools’ physical education teachers to have kids’ activities during football and basketball games, and posting inspirational quotes, workouts and recipes on their Facebook page. But, it takes all of our community members to want to lead healthier lifestyles to keep showing improvements in our county health ranking from year to year,” said Ashlee Bevan, Program Director and Live Well Leadership Team Member at Stafford County Economic Development.
· Adult smoking within our county has decreased from 28% in 2015 to 17% in 2016.
· Adult obesity decreased by one percent from last year.
· Poor physical health days decreased from 4.8 to 3.3 which places us close to the State average
of 3.1 unhealthy days reported in the last 30 days.
“Healthy and active lifestyles are a mindset,” said Bevan.
On a national level, this year’s Rankings took a closer look at the differences in health between urban, rural, suburban, and smaller metro counties and found that:
· Rural counties not only have higher rates of premature death, but also nearly 1 in 5 rural
counties saw rises in premature death rates over the past decade, while most urban counties
have experienced consistent improvement.
· Rural counties have higher rates of smoking, obesity, child poverty, teen births, and higher
numbers of uninsured adults than their urban counterparts. Large urban counties have lower
smoking and obesity rates, fewer injury deaths, and more residents who attended some college.
· Large suburban counties have the lowest rates of childhood poverty and teen births.
Through this information, community members and organizations can be better informed about health-related outcomes on a local, state and national basis.
“Each year we are excited to receive new information about the health of Kansas counties. Policymakers and members of the health community can use the Rankings to better understand the complex connections between the social, economic, and behavioral factors that affect the health of the people and communities in our state,” said Gianfranco Pezzino, M.D., senior fellow and strategy team leader at the Kansas Health Institute.
About Live Well Stafford County, KS
Funded by a three-year $100,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation in Wichita, Kan., Live Well Stafford County is a volunteer leadership team based in Stafford County that is dedicated to improving the health of their communities, by increasing active transportation opportunities and promoting healthy lifestyle activities.
About Kansas Health Foundation
The Kansas Health Foundation is based in Wichita, but statewide in its focus. With a mission to improve the health of all Kansans, KHF envisions a culture in which every Kansan can make healthy choices where they live, work and play. To achieve this, the Foundation focuses its grantmaking in two primary program areas: Health Equity, with the goal of reducing health disparities related to social and economic factors; and Civic Health, with a goal to engage Kansans in improving the health of our state. To learn more about KHF, its grantmaking and the ways in which it's working to provide a healthier future for Kansas, please visit www.kansashealth.org; follow on Twitter @KansasHealthOrg; or visit facebook.com/KansasHealthFoundation.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.
About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health. A focal point for health and health care dialogue within the University of Wisconsin-Madison and beyond, and a convener of stakeholders, the Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those in academia and those in the policy and practice arena. The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and manages the RWJF Culture of Health Prize. For more information, visit http://uwphi.pophealth.wisc.edu.
Stafford – Construction on the new house in Stafford is quickly progressing. But with the progress has come questions. We want to clarify the process that Economic Development went through to begin the housing project.
Stafford County Economic Development secured two major statewide grants for constructing housing in Stafford County; a $168,000 grant from the Moderate Income Housing Program at Kansas Housing Resources Corp. in 2013, and an allocation of Community Service Tax Credits equating in $214,285 for the same year.
The initial grant applications were written with projections that a duplex could be constructed for $225,000 and that a total of three duplexes could be constructed. Competition was strong statewide for the limited grant funding available, and all applicants’ allocations were reduced from their requests. Stafford County was fortunate to be one of the few selected, so EcoDevo proceeded to develop plans and solicit bids for constructing only one duplex. A house plan was selected and the bids were collected in spring 2014, with companies both inside and outside the county participating. The winning bid was submitted by Troy Willinger Construction, at a cost of $302,000.
The duplex was built in Macksville in 2014 beginning in the spring and completed by November. With $80,000 remaining it was not sufficient to construct another duplex, but neither was it appealing to return unspent grant funds. A one-time opportunity to receive an additional allocation of Community Service Tax Credits in December 2014 raising $90,000 was offered to Stafford EcoDevo. This provided a total of $170,000 for additional housing construction, which was estimated to be sufficient to construct a single-family home.
It may be worth noting the process through which an organization actually receives funds through the Community Service Tax Credit program. Through a competitive application process, KS Dept. of Commerce selects projects to receive an allocation of tax credits. In Stafford EcoDevo’s case it was initially a $150,000 tax credit allocation, then an additional $63,000 allocation. The organization must then find businesses or individuals that are willing to provide a direct donation to the non-profit organization in exchange for a 70% tax credit on their Kansas Income Taxes. This meant that to fully utilize the allocation that had been awarded to Stafford EcoDevo, a total of $304,286 was collected in donations from businesses and individuals in 2014 and 2015. Particularly with changes in Kansas tax law that have reduced income tax liability for many, this was a long, time-consuming process to identify donors. We are very grateful for the 23 contributions, ranging from $1,000 to $71,429 that provided the means to carry this project forward. About 22% of contributions came from within Stafford County, and 78% from outside Stafford County.
It may also be worth noting that the Economic Development Board and Housing Committee considered several different strategies for constructing housing economically, both before the construction of the duplex and the single-family residence. Options to buy a kit of materials and hire labor, to use prefabricated Structural Insulated Panels to reduce labor costs, and modular housing were all discussed. A Hutchinson-based contractor constructed houses in Rice County under the Moderate Income Housing Program that would have met Stafford EcoDevo’s grant requirements, but this option was never seriously pursued because of the desire to keep business local. The impact of using local suppliers and contractors was weighed, as was developing a house that the board thought potential renters/buyers would find appealing.
Therefore, the EcoDevo Board suggested gathering bids from local contractors to build a single-family home with the same layout as one side of the duplex. The process for having the architectural plans revised and bids collected took four months. These bids came in around $225,000. Economic Development simply did not have sufficient funds to construct this.
With an awareness that housing is being constructed at the desired price point in surrounding parts of Kansas, and in particular in Garden City, the plans used in Garden City were obtained and shared informally with local contractors. We wanted feedback before going to the full extent of asking for bids, which we recognize takes considerable time and effort. EcoDevo was told that those plans were not practical to build in Stafford County and would cost more than the budget would allow, so actual bids were not collected. This highlights one of the challenges of building new construction: no one knows what the cost to build is for a particular plan just by looking at a floorplan. Until the actual materials needed for a particular plan are priced out, the actual cost is not known. And going through that bid process takes time; indeed, usually at least a couple of months.
Meanwhile, the deadline for expending the grant funds and having an independent audit was to be December 31, 2015. A request for extension was approved, but funds must be expended in time for an audit to be complete by June 2016 or funds may be forfeited.
Housing Opportunities Inc., a non-profit housing agency serving central Kansas had received a Moderate Income Housing Grant to construct single family residences. HOI had developed three single-family house plans, each with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, full basements, and attached double car garages – the fundamental features desired by Stafford EcoDevo. HOI was originally chartered to serve Stafford County, and two people from Stafford, Phyllis Hager and Kim Hoffman had served on its board in the past. Apparently, it was difficult to make a project in Stafford County fit the requirements of HOI funding sources (primarily HUD) and a project was never completed in Stafford County; interest then waned in maintaining representation from Stafford. However in this case, with funding in place, the HOI board approved carrying out a project in Stafford County.
The remaining funds to build a house totaled about $165,000. Based on the deadlines for expending Community Service Tax Credit funds and the fact that a building option was available at a predictable price, the Board decided to go forward using Housing Opportunities Inc. HOI does not complete the construction work itself; it uses subcontractors. HOI’s on-staff general contractor for HOI was given a list of local subcontractors to contact for this project. He reported that he contacted a number of Stafford County based subcontractors, and heard back from only one. We were also told that that contractor ultimately did not submit a bid. Stafford Lumber and St. John Lumber were included on the list as suppliers, and Stafford Lumber was chosen for primary building materials. HOI is committed to completing the project by April 30, allowing for compliance with the audit requirement by June 1.
This process highlights some of the challenges there are in building rural housing that are the fault of no one in particular. Homebuilding in Stafford County is oriented to custom homebuilding, unlike in urban developments where a buyer may choose to “build” a house by choosing from a defined set of house plans that have pre-determined price points.
In the end, because of the housing work Stafford EcoDevo has undertaken, there is a new duplex in Macksville with two young families that have moved here from outside of county. The property pays $4,400 annually in property taxes and buys an insurance policy from a local agent that costs approximately $1,500 per year. A renovated house in Hudson used over $40,000 in local contractor services, and an offer to purchase is pending from another young adult from outside the county. The new house in Stafford will add approximately $2,500 in property taxes to the tax base. We hope Stafford County residents can feel good about those accomplishments, which have come with minimal expense from local taxpayers.
Will someone purchase the property? Will someone choose to rent it? Will it bring in a new resident from outside the county? Only time will tell. With progress, there is risk, and this is no exception.
For more information, contact Carolyn Dunn via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 620-549-3527.
Stafford County Economic Development
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