The Wake County Board of Commissioners today established a Population Health Task Force that will create a plan to improve the county's overall health and well-being. The plan will focus on policies and strategies to support healthy communities, active lifestyles and thriving residents.
"We're working to improve the health and well-being of all of our residents by building a culture of health in Wake County," said Chairman Sig Hutchinson, who will serve as chair of the task force. "Our health is influenced by so many social factors. This task force will focus on those factors and develop a plan to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our residents."
While Wake County was named the healthiest county in North Carolina by County Health Rankings in 2016, there is still work to be done. Several measures that impact the health of Wake County residents need to be improved, including:
- Physical Inactivity: 18 percent of adults over the age of 20 report they do not incorporate physical activity into their leisure time.
- Children in Poverty: 14 percent of children under age 18 live in poverty.
- Unemployment Rate: 4.8 percent of Wake County residents age 16 and older are unemployed, but seeking work.
The task force will be given the following charge:
- Review existing methodologies, philosophies, systems and models to develop a common understanding of how other communities are currently impacting population health;
- Collaboratively develop holistic recommendations that utilize existing models, strategies and systems, as well as new approaches, to address health disparities, create healthy communities, impact the built environment and make the healthy choice the easy choice; and
- Recommend a system of outreach to impact all residents through community engagement, land use and transportation policies, employer programs, clubs and organization enrollment, communication with the faith community and government programs.
The commissioners will appoint up to 25 community leaders to the task force. It will meet monthly for one year to deliver a tactical report to the board before May 2018.
As Wake County grows by an average of 64 people per day, the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District wants to provide farm and forest landowners with the resources they need to make the best decisions for the future of their properties.
The 12th annual Keeping the Farm Workshop will take place on Feb. 22, from 8:15 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Wake County Commons Building, at 4011 Carya Drive in Raleigh. Registration is free.
"Landowners aren't always farmers. They may have inherited land owned by their family for generations or purchased land but hired a farmer to operate the farm," said Dale Threatt-Taylor, Wake Soil and Water Conservation District director. "This workshop brings public and private partner organizations together to help all landowners learn about their options."
Attendees will be able to connect with professionals on topics such as estate planning, conservation easements, agriculture law, utilities easements, family farm planning and forest management.
Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Sig Hutchinson will open the workshop, and Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison will speak on safety and security.
Information will also be provided by cooperative state and federal partners, including USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Farm Service Agency, N.C. Cooperative Extension – Wake County, N.C. State University Agriculture and Resource Economics, N.C. Forest Service, and the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District.
For more information on the workshop and to register, contact the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District at 919-250-1053 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event is sponsored by Friends of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District, Wake County Farm Bureau, Wake County Agribusiness Council, AgCarolina Farm Credit, ROMR, North Carolina Forestry Association, Triangle Land Conservancy, and The Branan Law Firm.
Wake Upgrades Emergency System for Residents
Wake County Emergency Management urges residents to sign up to receive alerts from its new and improved emergency notification system, ReadyWake Alerts. The system provides residents, businesses and visitors with important information in the event of an emergency.
People can sign up to receive alerts for a variety of situations occurring in their area, including severe weather impacts, unexpected road closures or evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods. Residents can choose to receive alerts by phone, text or email.
"Wake County is committed to ensuring all residents receive accurate and timely information in an emergency," said Josh Creighton, Wake County Fire Services Assistant Director. "Our new system allows us to directly contact people who are affected by an emergency in a way that is convenient for them."
Sign up for ReadyWake Alerts at www.readywake.com, or go to any Wake County Public Library and ask for assistance.
ReadyWake Alerts is Wake County's new emergency notification system; anyone who was signed up for the county's old system must re-register at readywake.com to continue receiving alerts.
Wake County Animal Center adoption special runs Feb. 13–16
Wake County is helping homeless pets in the county find their furr-ever home this Valentine's Day. If you are ready to bring the unconditional love of a pet into your life, or you want to give a pet as a gift this holiday, check out the Wake County Animal Center's Valentine's Day adoption special.
From Monday, Feb. 13, until Thursday, Feb. 16, the Wake County Animal Center is offering reduced adoption rates for adult cats and dogs. Pets age six months and older will be available for adoption at the following rates:
- Cats – Name your price
- Dogs – $25
Adult cats and dogs make great pets because they have already developed their personalities and behaviors. If a cat or dog is coming from a foster home, potential owners will also know more about what the animal is like in a home environment.
Of the animals available for adoption, there are approximately 15 adult cats and 16 adult dogs at the center, as well as approximately 17 adult cats and 30 adult dogs currently in foster homes. View the Wake County Animal Center Adoption Gallery to see all animals available for adoption.
Advice for giving and receiving a pet this Valentine's Day:
- If you are considering giving someone a pet as a Valentine's Day gift, make sure the recipient can have a pet at their home. Some apartment complexes may require a deposit for pets, or may not allow animals.
- Instead of surprising someone with a new pet, consider giving them items the pet will need, such as a food bowl, water bowl, leash or collar, and then offer to pick out the pet together.
The Wake County Animal Center is an open-admission animal shelter operated by Wake County. The center receives all stray, abandoned and surrendered pets in the county and works in partnership with fosters, volunteers and local rescues, to treat and rehome thousands of homeless animals every year.
Visit the Adoptions page for more information on adopting from the Wake County Animal Center.
In this fun, four-day event, bird watchers of all ages count birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the animals are found across North America. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. Participants will report their results online to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Visitors can take advantage of 18 different Great Backyard Bird Count programs at six Wake County Parks, including:
- Feb. 18, noon-3 p.m. – Backyard Bird Basics at Lake Crabtree County Park
Participate in the 20th annual Great Backyard Bird Count with a variety of bird-related games, activities and crafts. Learn how to attract birds to your outdoor space and identify common backyard birds. Participants of all ages can learn bird calls, make suet, help count birds at the park feeder and more! There is no fee for this program, and preregistration is encouraged, but not required. Lake Crabtree County Park is located at 1400 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville.
- Feb. 20, noon-3 p.m. – GBBC Bird Fun at Harris Lake County Park
Bring a picnic lunch and join us for some Great Backyard Bird Count fun! Visitors can participate in bird educational activities, games and crafts and sign up at the event to participate in a bird walk at 1 or 2 p.m. Bring your own binoculars if you have them, and meet at the Longleaf Shelter. All ages are welcome, and children must be accompanied by an adult. This program is free, and preregistration is required. Harris Lake County Park is located at 2112 County Park Drive, New Hill.
Throughout the month of February, Wake County Public Libraries is proud to celebrate Black History Month by hosting programs to celebrate and learn about the diverse African American culture.
Meet the Artist: African American Artists
Drop in and meet local artists as they discuss and display their talent.
African American Cooking Traditions with Erin Belcher
Erin Belcher will give a presentation on African American cooking, its history and how to prepare traditional foods in a healthy way.
Patrons are encouraged to view the event listing for a complete list of programs.
Every day, Wake County residents of all ages and backgrounds turn to their local library for education and entertainment. During the month of February, the Wake County Public Library System invites patrons to show their appreciation for their library by participating in the 2nd annual Read. Visit. Love. campaign, a community celebration of books, reading and public libraries.
Library patrons are asked to share their story about why they love their library on comment cards found in each library branch, through an online form or on social media using #lovewcpl.
"Whether it is teaching adults how to use new technology or providing story times for children, the library engages our community and makes sudden and lasting impacts on the lives of our residents," said Ann Burlingame, deputy library director. "For every person who has benefited from using the library, there is a story about what the library means to them."
People can also opt in to share their stories on camera to take part in a Read. Visit. Love. promotional video.
Visit any Wake County public library or share your story here. For more information, contact Digital Library Manager Benjamin McFadden at 919-250-1083.
According to the American Heart Association, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 42 seconds. Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women; however, heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions.
This February, join Wake County and learn how to take control of your heart health during American Heart Month.
Feb. 20, 3–4 p.m.
Trail Walk at Blue Jay Point County Park, Azalea Loop Trail
Wake County will lead a second trail walk featuring heart health facts and details of the trail's natural surroundings.
Feb. 21, 6–8 p.m.
Feel The Beat Fitness Night at Chavis Community Center
In partnership with Southeast Raleigh Assembly, Wake County will offer a free exercise night. For two hours, the community will participate in a variety of exercises including Zumba, line dancing, boot camp and kick boxing. Participants will also engage in interactive educational displays to learn ways to reduce their risk of heart disease.
Visit the Wake County American Heart Month page to learn more about these activities and other resources available to manage heart health.
Wake County residents are invited to show their appreciation to local military veterans at any Wake County public library, now through Feb. 5. Library visitors of all ages are encouraged to use the materials at the libraries' craft tables to design Valentine's Day cards for men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The completed valentines will be delivered to the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center for delivery to veterans just prior to Valentine's Day.
Every year, groups and organizations across the country participate in Valentines for Veterans. In 2016, more than 5,200 valentines from library patrons were distributed to the Durham VA Medical Center.
For more information, contact Sarah Kramer or Megan Roberts, youth services managers and WCPL teen coordinators.
For information, contact your library or visit Libraries' events page.
EMS and Information Systems honored by Harvard
Two Wake County initiatives were recognized nationally on Jan. 18 as Bright Ideas in Government by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Wake County EMS was recognized for its Advance Practice Paramedic program, and Wake County Information Services was recognized for using innovation to share public health data related to restaurant inspections.
Wake County EMS developed the APP program in 2008 to train paramedics to respond alongside ambulances to select EMS call types, including mental health and substance abuse crisis calls. If no other immediate medical care requiring the emergency department is needed, the ambulance returns to service, and the APP remains with the patient to coordinate transportation and direct entry into a mental health-specific treatment facility.
"Wake County EMS is honored to receive this recognition. We always want to lead and innovate in providing the best care for our patients," said Dr. Jose Cabanas, Wake County EMS director. "The APP program better serves patients and health care systems by providing quality care in a more cost-effective way."
Wake County Information Services recognized that while restaurant sanitation inspection information is on the county's website, most residents don't know to look for it there. IS saw an opportunity to partner with Yelp, the leading platform for restaurant reviews by customers, to make sanitation scores for food establishments more accessible. Wake County now pushes the sanitation scores to Yelp daily, so users will see a restaurant's inspection score right next to reviews. Clicking through the scores also provides users with an easy-to-understand summary of infractions. There is no direct cost associated with the project, only a small amount of staff time to establish the data connection.
"Wake County is committed to being a transparent government," said Bill Greeves, chief information and innovation officer. "This partnership is a perfect example of how open data in government can be leveraged to create a better experience for consumers while promoting the public good."
These initiatives are part of a cohort of more than 60 programs from all levels of government that represent the next horizon of work to improve services, solve problems, and work on behalf of citizens.
This is the fifth cohort recognized through the Bright Ideas program, an initiative of the broader Innovations in American Government Awards program. For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching, have sufficient operational resources, and must be administered by one or more governmental entities. Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center's Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.
Visit the Government Innovators Network at http://innovations.harvard.edu for the full list of Bright Ideas programs, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards.