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Manatee County's 2012 Annual Report Praises No-Kill and YWeight


BRADENTON -- At Tuesday's BOCC Meeting, County Administrator Ed Hunzeker delivered the county's 2012 Annual Report, and regardless of how the county may have handled the good, bad and ugly issues 2012 produced, Manatee can stand proud on two very wonderful accomplishments; their "No Kill" community efforts, and their "YWeight" program success.


Florida Statute 125.74, requires counties to produce an Annual Report and Manatee didn't only reach for easy goals. It has come closer to truly accomplishing a No Kill status then any other county in the state. With any luck, the number animals that are still euthanized (very few) will continue to fall until it gets to zero. Efforts to bring the community into the heart of the matter has seemed to have been a success. 


There has never been a shortage of dog and cat lovers in the county and that is one of the reasons the program has been a success. Another reason is because of the hard work and devotion of Bill Hutchinson, Kris Weiskoff and their team of professionals in the Animal Services division of the Public Safety Department. What for years has been a growing heartbreak for animal lovers is now nearing a miracle. 


Congratulations to all of those employees and adopters alike for the comprehensive efforts and dedicated work that is making No Kill a reality.


Just as much can be said about Manatee's YWeight program. For decades there have been many who have promoted preventative medicine and now Manatee County's embracement of it has produced overwhelming success. Savings in dollars and time, along with improved quality of life and longevity are all enhanced with a proper diet and activity -- just ask Manatee employees.


Manatee County has become one of the state's healthiest workplaces. At lunch, county employees are walking, riding their bikes and a occasionally strolling with one of the adoptable dogs from the downtown's "Adopt-a-Pet" facility, next to the Administration building. Even more people than anticipated have become dedicated to losing weight, lowering their blood pressure and reducing the chance of developing type-II diabetes


Those who participated in the program lost a combined 5.4 tons of bodyweight last year. These results helped to negotiate the county's health insurance policies to a savings of $4.3 million in 2012. This program also helped to fund local services, reducing the need to raise property taxes, and lower Building Department fees by 6 percent, while helping more than 75 local businesses with the rapid response program.


There are many other programs that the county has invested in that offer much promise: Landfill capturing methane gas to power a water facility, Economic Development Incentive Grants that have helped to create over 1,000 jobs and combat blight, and opening after hour playgrounds to assist  our energetic youth, all have shown good leadership and promise for a better tomorrow. 


Some decisions many may feel have not been so obviously beneficial to the quality of life, and time will tell which and how many will falter, but the path to a kinder and healthier community where the quality of life trumps the quantity of life for all of its residents, is certainly one to be proud of. Hats off to Manatee County for reaching and embracing some of those goals.


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