Get in shape, Cumberland! City leaders join WMHS challenge

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Cumberland Times-News, January 3, 2012

Kristin Harty Barkley


CUMBERLAND —Mayor Brian Grim and Cumberland City Council members are pledging to lose weight and get healthier in the months ahead, and they’re encouraging citizens to join them.

The city has “enthusiastically agreed” to participate in Western Maryland Health System’s Healthy Community Challenge, competing against three other towns for a $2,000 prize.

The team with the greatest percentage of weight loss, the biggest decrease in blood pressure, and the highest number of healthy living activities wins.

“How much weight do we need to lose, Brian?” Councilman Butch Hendershot teased, after Grim announced the challenge during Tuesday night’s council meeting. “Let’s cut right to the chase.”

Cumberland residents are invited to attend a sign-up and weigh-in Jan. 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall. The contest ends in June.

“I hope to see a City Hall full of citizens who are making a commitment to more healthy living,” said Grim, who called on all city staff to participate, as well.

Details about specific Healthy Challenge events will be announced soon, he said. The other communities participating are Westernport, Lonaconing and Piedmont, W.Va.

Western Maryland Health System invited area towns to participate in the challenge last fall, after data collected for the 2011 County Health Rankings showed some disturbing trends.

Three out of four Allegany County residents aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables, for example, data showed, and the percentage of obese adults here has increased by 5 percent in the last four years. The same is true for local children, the report shows.

Residents who participate in the challenge will register by getting weighed, having their blood pressure taken, and answering two baseline questions:

1. How many fruit and vegetable servings do you eat a day?

2. How much physical activity do you get?

In other business Tuesday, council:

• Voted 5-0 to raise fees for eight services, including site plan review, zoning map amendments and Board of Appeals applications, as well as utility connection fees. City Administrator Jeff Rhodes, who asked council to consider the fee hikes last month, said that the city incurs significant costs to provide the services, including staff time and legal advertising fees.

Rhodes said the new fee structure is comparable to that of other communities in the area and “won’t put us at a disadvantage” for development projects.

“One of the things I like about this is that we are isolating expenses to services rendered,” Councilman David Kauffman said. “... This is an opportunity to be able to not pass the burden of specific activity on to the general public.”

• Voted 5-0 to approve a $1.4 million contract with Whitman, Requardt and Associates to provide engineering services for the design phase of a 5-million-gallon sewer overflow storage facility to be built in Mason Recreational Complex.

The city is under a consent order to decrease the amount of combined sewer overflow that enters the Potomac River.

The underground storage facility, which is expected to cost around $22 million, is being partially funded by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Contact Kristin Harty Barkley at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .