Ottumwa feeling good about Blue Zones chances

City leaders in Ottumwa say they are relieved and excited after the Blue Zones Committee's second visit to the City of Bridges Monday.

Ottumwa is in round two of the Blue Zones designation project and the officials who visited for a follow-up Monday were looking for changes since their site visit in March.

They were particularly impressed with infrastructure projects around the city and the health-inspired plans that have already been put to action in the schools.

"The schools already have a lot of things already in place that are expecting to become certified and there are a lot of things that are indicated that are very much possible that have not yet come around yet, so they were very, very pleased with that," said Lynelle Diers, member of the Blue Zones Power Nine Board and Director of Wapello County Public Health. "One of our weak points was concerns about city policy and the city administrator was there with a representative of city council, and also Jody Gates from health and inspections, and they were reassuring them that yes, city policy will be done, that they are going to work with us and they will make this happen."

The committee members ran through a checklist of all the different elements required for a community to become a Blue Zones site, checking the education system, local businesses, community support and grocery stores, among others, and checking if healthy initiatives have been put into place.

Ottumwa is one of 12 communities in round two, and six communities will be chosen as Blue Zones demonstration sites in January 2013.