FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher visited Perry County Central High School Thursday to spread the Get Healthy Kentucky message to Kentucky teenagers – get serious about physical activity and nutrition and say no to tobacco.
Following this advice is key to healthy living and ensuring a good quality of life well into adulthood, the Governor told students and staff, city and county officials, school board members and health board members. After the governor’s presentation, audience members shared thoughts and questions about Get Healthy Kentucky.
“As a physician, I understand the importance of prevention,” Governor Fletcher said. “We’ve been aggressively working to change the health of Kentuckians through targeted initiatives that emphasize prevention – the core of Get Healthy Kentucky. I want all Kentuckians to have the best possible quality of life, particularly our young people.”
Major Tim Cory, who serves as the JROTC instructor at Perry County Central High School, received an award at the event for contributions to the health of his community. Cory was recognized for promoting fitness in his classes, his cross country team, wrestling team and other school activities. He encourages students to remain fit and make healthy lifestyle choices.
“We are seeking out people like Tim Cory all over Kentucky,” said Governor Fletcher. “We could not do this without the support of those who share our passion for making positive changes in the health of Kentuckians.”
Get Healthy Kentucky is a statewide wellness initiative that incorporates physical activity, nutrition, tobacco cessation and prevention components. GHK offers individuals and groups a one-stop, central location for information and resources to help Kentuckians prevent chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease and enjoy a better quality of life.
GHK is designed for all ages and includes access to reliable, unbiased information on a GHK Web site, www.gethealthy.ky.gov. The site provides information about the Governor’s Challenge program, an incentive-based fitness program designed to help participants set personal fitness goals and track progress online.
“As a whole, Kentucky has work to do to improve our health,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “The Fletcher administration not only understands what has to be done to reverse these negative health trends, but also has created this comprehensive, motivational program where people can get all the tools and information they need to ‘Get Healthy.’”
Kentuckians have long battled high rates of obesity, physical inactivity and tobacco use. However, Governor Fletcher said, things have started to change.
“My administration has started addressing these problems through programs and policy decisions,” said Governor Fletcher.
Here’s a look at some recent accomplishments:
· A smoking cessation benefit in public employees’ health plans and Medicaid.
· An increased number of no-smoking policies, including smoke-free state government buildings and 13 city/county ordinances across the state that prohibit smoking in most public facilities.
· Expanded newborn metabolic screenings, increasing from four to 29 the number of screenings which test for metabolic disorders.
· The creation of diabetes Centers of Excellence in six areas in Kentucky. They will link patients with local health departments, health educators, hospitals and other resources in their community to provider better disease management for those living with diabetes.
· Infrastructure improvement grants awarded to 26 health departments across Kentucky, totaling $10 million.
· Recent changes to school nutrition programs. The changes resulted in Kentucky receiving an A-minus on a national report card measuring the quality of nutrition in schools.
· An increased commitment to preventing a bioterrorism attack. Kentucky is now ranked third in the nation for bioterrorism preparedness.
“I’m extremely proud at the progress we’ve made – and the commitment all Kentuckians have shown – to improving the health status of our commonwealth,” said Governor Fletcher. “Now, with Get Healthy Kentucky, we have been able to structure our resources to better inform the public and form a plan to change the wellness culture of our state.”
For more information about Get Healthy Kentucky or to participate in the Governor’s Challenge, visit www.GetHealthy.ky.gov. The Web site contains information to help Kentuckians lead healthier, more active lifestyles and information on incentives to motivate Kentuckians to continue to challenge themselves.
For the past several months, the governor has traveled the state promoting Get Healthy Kentucky, stopping in Owensboro, Paintsville, Ashland, Elizabethtown, Louisville and Owsley County. The events have drawn well over 1,000 people.
Governor Ernie Fletcher also joined Kentucky Transportation Cabinet representatives and local officials in Perry County today to ceremonially break ground for a $34.8 million highway construction project.
The project involves relocating 2.57 miles of KY 7, beginning at the intersection of KY 7 and KY 15 at Jeff and extending south to Viper.
“When completed, this new highway will replace an old winding, narrow road,” Governor Fletcher said. “The new route will allow emergency responders to reach communities in the southernmost sections of Perry County much faster – communities such as Viper, Cornettsville and Leatherwood. Furthermore, this investment will help make additional education, employment and health care opportunities available.”
“Residents of this area of Perry County have long sought this highway project,” said Rep. Brandon Smith (R-Hazard). “This is certainly a very welcome project and we thank Governor Fletcher and the Transportation Cabinet for moving it forward.”
“Those who live in the South Perry community and surrounding areas will enjoy tremendous benefits when this new road is completed,” said Sen. Daniel Mongiardo (D-Hazard). “It will improve the quality of life for those who travel this section of KY 7 every day, and I am pleased to have supported this project.”
The portion of KY 7 to be relocated carries an average of 5,800 vehicles per day, including a large number of coal trucks. Wedged between the mountainside and the North Fork of the Kentucky River, the road is prone to slippage and drop-offs. The new route will make travel much safer.
The KY 7 project also will improve access to a new elk viewing station that will greatly enhance tourism opportunities.
Bizzack Construction LLC was awarded the low-bid contract for the KY 7 project for $34,845,312.83. The project will take approximately two years to complete. Preliminary work is under way, and construction will begin in earnest next month.
Governor Fletcher also presented ceremonial checks for a bridge replacement and two guardrail installation projects for state highways in Perry County during the event.
Plans are progressing for a $3.6 million bridge replacement project on KY 451 over the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Hazard. The new Home Lumber Bridge, as it is known locally, will replace an outdated and substandard span.
“The new bridge will improve access from downtown Hazard to the Johnny Cox All-American Drive bypass and will complement a downtown revitalization project to accent the appearance of the downtown area and provide more parking for offices in the area,” Governor Fletcher said. “When completed, this will be a significant upgrade.”
This project is in the right-of-way acquisition phase and several parcels have been cleared for the beginning of construction. The project is expected to be let for bids later this year and to take six to eight months to complete.
Guardrail will be installed along 0.37 miles of KY 80, Hyden-Hazard Road near the Leslie County line, and 0.05 miles of KY 463, Delphia-Letcher County Line Road near Leatherwood.
“These guardrail installation projects will help provide a measure of safety for motorists who drive the mountainous roads so common in this part of Kentucky,” Governor Fletcher said.
George B. Stone Co. LLC, of Sharpsburg, was awarded the low-bid contract for the KY 80 guardrail project for $34,806. Big Sandy Guardrail Inc., of Pikeville, was awarded the low-bid contract for the KY 463 guardrail project for $8,631.05. Both projects should be completed by June 30.
“Governor Fletcher is committed to providing the best possible highways for drivers in Kentucky,” concluded Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert. “These projects are part of that goal. By improving local highway networks, we are helping to build stronger communities throughout our great state.”
More than $408,000 presented for water infrastructure upgrades, flood control
Governor Fletcher presented more than $408,000 in infrastructure funding to upgrade waterlines for two water systems and to complete funding for a flood control project that includes design and construction of a wastewater treatment plant in Chavies.
“For too long residents in eastern Kentucky and Perry County have gone underserved in the areas of water and sewer infrastructure,” said Governor Fletcher. “This funding will help us eliminate the use of straight pipes and costly septic systems. It will also help get safe, clean drinking water to the residents of Perry County.”
Governor Fletcher presented a ceremonial check to the Perry County Fiscal Court in the amount of $200,000 to replace an inadequate waterline along Route 476 and construct 3,000 feet of new line.
The Governor also presented a ceremonial check to the Mountain Water District in the amount of $136,000 to complete the second phase of a waterline construction project along portions of Routes 267, 476, 3351 in the Robinson, Rowdy and Pigeonroost areas.
The project will provide water lines for 400 new customers.
Governor Fletcher presented a ceremonial check to the Perry County Sanitation District for $72,500 to complete the design of a new wastewater treatment plant and a new wastewater collection system extension. The extension will serve 173 new customers and eliminate package sewer treatment plants at Chavies Elementary School and the Chavies After Hours Clinic.
Package plants are difficult and expensive to maintain. The new sewer will further enhance business opportunities in the area. Business development has been hampered by inadequate sewer treatment systems.
Governor Fletcher presents funding for Community Corrections Program
Governor Fletcher also presented Perry County with $82,000 for the Community Corrections Program, which provides community-based treatment that allows those convicted of crimes to remain in the community, employed and contributing to society while their sentences are monitored. The Department of Corrections provides the funds.
“The Community Corrections Program is a vital asset as an alternative to incarceration. This program provides funding so the courts can offer electronic monitoring, community service, home incarceration and other innovative programs to help reduce their population in the county jail,” said John Rees, commissioner of Department of Corrections. “This type of a program offers those who have made mistakes a second chance for a successful life.”