Located on the plains of southeastern Colorado near both the Kansas and Oklahoma borders, Lamar is the seat of Prowers County. The city’s current population is approximately 8,900 people.
Lamar is home to generations of farmers and ranchers, families with children, elderly retirees, and a growing Hispanic population. A rural community surrounded by farm fields and ranch pasture, Lamar is collaborative, cooperative, and proud. The city serves as a major hub for economic, educational, recreational, and cultural activities in southeastern Colorado.
The Prowers County LiveWell project began in 2006 with the Prowers County Department of Social Services serving as the coordinating organization and fiscal agent. At that time, the project focused only on the city of Lamar. The LiveWell Lamar initiative struggled throughout 2006 and 2007 due to multiple instances of staff turnover for the project coordinator position. The resulting absence of consistent leadership detracted from the continuity and the progress of the community’s mobilization and planning process. During this period, LiveWell Lamar went through three different part-time coordinators, with the last one resigning the position in fall 2007.
While the Department of Social Services had been able to form a coalition of community leaders with an interest in promoting healthy eating and active living, the coalition met inconsistently without the leadership of a regular project coordinator and struggled to produce a strategic plan for the community.
As a result of these challenges, in fall 2007 the Prowers County Department of Social Services determined that it could no longer coordinate the LiveWell project and offered to either return the LiveWell grant funds or to transfer the grant and the project to another agency in Prowers County. In late October 2007, the Director of the Department of Social Services held a meeting with the LiveWell Lamar coalition as well as the leadership from Prowers County Public Health, High Plains Community Health Center, and Prowers Medical Center to determine if another local agency had the interest and capacity to lead the LiveWell project.
The coalition reached a consensus agreement that Prowers County Public Health is the local agency best suited to assume the responsibility of coordinating the LiveWell initiative. Jackie Brown, the Director of Prowers County Public Health, agreed to write the 2008 continuation grant application with Public Health now serving as the fiscal agent. The 2008 continuation grant also included two other significant changes to the LiveWell Lamar initiative. First, as an agency serving the entire county, the Department of Public Health broadened the scope of the project’s reach to include all of Prowers County rather than the city of Lamar alone. Second, the 2008 LiveWell grant application converted the project coordinator from a part-time position to a full-time position with appropriate supervision and administrative support. The goal of these changes was to create capacity for sufficient leadership of the LiveWell program in Prowers County.
The LiveWell Prowers County 2008 continuation grant application did not, however, make changes to the 2007 LiveWell Lamar implementation strategies even though this existing work plan reflected an inadequate level of community input and strategic planning. Under the new management of Prowers County Public Health, recruiting and hiring a qualified full-time coordinator became the first priority for the LiveWell initiative in 2008. Once this leadership was in place for the LiveWell program, the new coordinator would then be responsible for revitalizing the LiveWell Prowers County coalition and engaging the community in revising the project’s work plan to prioritize appropriate strategies to promote healthy eating and active living.
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