Among Kansas communities, Harvey County has done something that stands out — something that will certainly make moms proud.

On Monday, the Harvey County Commission approved a proclamation declaring the county a Community Supporting Breastfeeding — encouraging all citizens to support breastfeeding families wherever and whenever possible — as designated by the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. Harvey County is one of just 19 communities in Kansas to have received this distinction.

"We want to shine the spotlight on communities who are making it easier for mothers to meet their breastfeeding goals and serving as an example to other communities in Kansas to follow suit," said Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition Board of Directors Chair Brenda Moffitt.

Brenda Bandy, Executive Director of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, noted it is an honor that recognizes the full community buy-in to the support of breastfeeding, starting with the formation of a local breastfeeding coalition and support group, as well as the involvement of a local hospital (Newton Medical Center) in promoting the practice of breastfeeding.

With that foundation, Harvey County has gone on to see a number of businesses (now up to 26 total) support the need of mothers to nurse in public through participation in the "Breastfeeding Welcome Here" program. Nearly a dozen local businesses have also earned the "Breastfeeding Employee Support" award, allowing workers to pump/nurse while on break among other measures.

"To see 11 employers recognized with an award, that's tremendous for your county," Bandy said.

Additionally, 48 child care providers have completed a course on how to support breastfeeding mothers, helping to create the culture of support that has become so prevalent across the county.

Such a culture is something the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition strives for given the advantages that have been found to stem from breastfeeding (i.e. being the most appropriate source of nutrition for infants, preventing from a host of chronic and acute diseases like asthma, lowering health care costs and turnover rates among employers, etc.). According to a release, it is estimated Kansas could save $156 million in health cares costs if 90 percent of Kansas families breastfeed exclusively for six months (the recommended time frame by authorities).

Currently, it was noted about 85 percent of Women, Infant and Children (WIC) mothers in Harvey County consider breastfeeding and the foundation the community has established is something Bandy sees as a strong tool in keeping up those numbers.

“Harvey County has woven a net of support through which no mother will fall,” Bandy said. "This is just the beginning. We know the coalition will continue working. They're going to continue to weave this net of support for your families."

In other business, the county commission:

Received a request for RSVPs to the Newton Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet, with all three commissioners giving indication they plan on attending.
Learned of an excellence in customer service class being offered by the Regional Economic Area Partnership of South Central Kansas on Sept. 21. County Administrator Swartzendruber noted department heads have been notified and many are planning on sending employees, with county treasurer Emily Nichols stating her entire office is planning on going and will shut down for the day.
Approved the appointment of Sedgwick's Rebekah Morse to the Harvey County Food and Farm Council for a term starting Aug. 27, 2018 and expiring Dec. 31, 2021, waiving second reading.
Was informed of the intent of this year's joint Justice Assistance Grant to go towards the purchase of Tasers and related equipment for the Newton Police Department. Swartzendruber signed off on the grant as it was submitted for approval by the city a day prior to the application deadline, though seeing as it is a joint grant the county is requesting that the grant application come to the county 15 days before the deadline moving forward.
Heard from Sheriff Chad Gay about efforts being made to expand the Harvey County Drug Task Force into a more regional effort, with Gay working on an agreement with the sheriffs of Marion, Butler, Reno and McPherson counties.
Received notice from Leo Stahly of Darlington Township about a particularly troublesome intersection during citizen's forum. Stahly noted his concerns about the crossing at the corner of SW 96th and S. Meridian Avenue given recent construction done by a landowner that has limited visibility, with Stahly asking commissioners to consider placing a stop sign at that location. The commission agreed to have the intersection placed on a list for study discussed with Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Meier last week.
Discussed a number of potential amendments to the capital improvement plan for the parks department.
Approved an information technology (IT) contract with Gilmore Solutions at a cost of $15,500 per month, authorizing administration to sign, for one year starting Oct. 1, 2018.