Mille Lacs County Bike Fleet

All MLC employees are welcome to borrow the bikes during their breaks. It is expected that employees using the bikes will have suitable cycling experience.

If you use the bikes, you do so at your own risk. When you borrow a bike, the Wellness Committee will require that you read and sign a Wellness Waiver. In return, the Wellness Committee will provide you with the equipment for a safe and enjoyable journey. Bicycle helmets are available for use and are clipped to each bike.

The bikes are stored in the antenna storage area, which is between the Sheriff’s Office and the Jus-tice Center. The area is secured by a locked gate.

There will not be an electronic reservation system, so you will need to get the code to see if any bikes are available during your desired time. To borrow one of the bikes, you need to contact the Wellness Committee for the gate & lock code. You can call or email one of the Wellness Committee members.

Source:  Mille Lacs County Employee Newsletter – September 2017

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New lactation room benefits nursing moms at Essentia Health-Sandstone

Breastfeeding moms at Essentia Health-Sandstone Hospital now have a beautiful, new place to express breast milk.  A Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grant funded the new lactation room.

“SHIP works to improve the health of communities, and the need for private lactation space was identified here in Sandstone as part of our community health needs assessment (CHNA),” says CHNA representative for Essentia, Tanya Christopherson.  “We applied for the $1000 grant in March, and finished the construction at the end of May.”

The lactation room is equipped with a comfortable chair and ottoman for nursing moms. The room also has a labeled lock to indicate it is in use.  Additionally, the room includes a refrigerator, trash can, and a sink to wash out pump parts.

“As a nursing mother myself, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have a place to quietly express milk,” Chistopherson adds.  “It’s a relaxing space that lets you destress and focus.”

Essentia Health encourages breastfeeding for both the health of mom and baby.  Babies who breastfeed have a lower risk of ear infections, lower risk of respiratory infections, and lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). For mothers, breastfeeding is linked to a lowered risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression.

Jessica Blesener also worked to secure funding for the lactation room.  She says in the short time it’s been available, moms are very appreciative.

“It’s part of our policy to provide a space for nursing mothers and we saw a wonderful opportunity to create this new space with the construction of the new hospital,” Blesener says.    “Before, moms would just go into empty patient rooms, locker rooms, bathrooms, or offices, and there was never a guarantee a space would be available, but now they have a space specially designed just for them.”
The room is accessible to all employees at the newly opened Pine Healthcare campus, including Essentia Health, Gateway Family Health Clinic and Thrifty White Pharmacy.   The space will also be available upon request to patients or their family members visiting the hospital.


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Mobile tent offer mothers private breastfeeding space

Written by: Kirsten Faurie, Kanabec County Times Editor
August 20, 2017

A new resource to help Kanabec County communities support breastfeeding mothers made its debut Saturday, Aug. 5 at Ogilvie’s Back to the Tower Days celebration.

Maintained by Kanabec County Public Health, the 5-foot by 5-foot blue pop-up tent clearly labeled “Lactation Room” is meant to provide breastfeeding mothers who desire privacy a clean, comfortable space to feed their babies or pump breastmilk while attending community events.

The portable tent can be set up by a single person in a few minutes and is a free asset available for event organizers to “check out” for use. The tent can be set up indoors or out and comes with two chairs and signage to advertise its location.

The tent was first erected during World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7) among the vendors area at Ogilvie’s Back to the Tower Days Saturday, Aug. 5.

The tent was the result of a collaborative effort between Kanabec County Community Health, FirstLight Health System, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, East Central Breastfeeding Coalition, Kanabec Publications and Partners in Healthy Living. It was purchased and furnished through a SHIP grant; signage was created through the financial assistance of FirstLight Health System.

Ellie White, Kanabec County WIC coordinator, said the goal is to help support breastfeeding and its many benefits to mothers, babies and communities.

Thus far, much of their focus has been on helping workplaces become breastfeeding friendly.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, more than 80 percent of new mothers in Minnesota WIC choose to breastfeed, but only about 35 percent breastfeed their infants at six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be fed only breastmilk through the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding through the first year and beyond to achieve optimal growth, development and health.

Kanabec County supports breastfeeding by providing free breastfeeding education and support for anyone in the county. Kanabec County Public Health currently has five certified lactation counselors on staff that are willing to offer breastfeeding support through home visits, office visits or phone counseling.

Federal and Minnesota laws require employers to provide support for nursing employees to pump breastmilk at work, but benefits to employers to accommodate nursing mothers goes beyond just complying with the law.   Additional benefits include:

  • increased employee loyalty
  • reduced turnover
  • increased productivity
  • lower health care costs as studies have shown breastfeeding boosts infant immune systems and lowers the mother’s risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast cancer.

“Ultimately, however, the true benefit comes when the breastfeeding employee shows pictures of her baby and sees the face of a happy, healthy child smiling back,” said White.

Businesses that support their breastfeeding employees are eligible for recognition by the Minnesota Department of Health as a Minnesota Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace. For more information and resources visit

The Kanabec County WIC program can be reached at 320-679-6329.

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Isanti County Milk Depot

For various reasons, a mother may not always be able to produce breast milk for her baby. Isanti County Public Health’s breast milk depot makes it possible for healthy lactating women who have extra milk to share that gift with an infant in need. Donor milk is often used as a bridge to help nourish premature babies until a birth mother’s milk comes in.
Locally donated milk is dropped off at Isanti County Public Health and will be shipped to the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. The donated milk is safely screened and pasteurized at the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes and returned to babies of need in the surrounding area. Donating moms are also put through a screening process and blood test before their milk is accepted into the program.
For information on how to donate breast milk see this Evidenced Based Program, or visit:, or call 847-262-5134.

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Princeton community garden expands to Oak Knoll

The city of Princeton passed a resolution at its March 23 meeting that enables expansion of the Princeton Community Garden from one small site near the historic depot building into what will be multiple plots in a piece of city-owned land along the western-most edge of the Oak Knoll Cemetery.

The group kicked off its growing season at a meeting that same week. Community Development Director Jolene Foss explained that the community garden group would not be a city entity, but the resolution was needed to grant the group permission to use the city-owned property.

One of the garden volunteers, Randy Hatch, made the request on the group’s behalf and said the vision is modeled after the Isanti County community garden in Cambridge. Hatch has worked with that group many years, retired in 2016 and has been helping get a bigger garden going in Princeton.

Members foresee an initial space in Oak Knoll of about 30 plots that measure 10-by-10 feet for $10 for the season or a 3-by-3-by-12-foot raised bed at the Depot for $15 for the season. Hatch said the Depot site would be for perennial flowers and food, while the Oak Knoll garden would be for annual plants.

The Princeton Community Garden got started in 2016 near the Mille Lacs County Historical Society building on 10th Street, with one 12- by-5-foot raised garden bordered by cinder blocks. In it, volunteers cultivated tomatoes, basil, kale, lettuce, squash and other edibles that were available for anyone to pick and eat.

Princeton resident and Mille Lacs County Commissioner Genny Reynolds applied for a $1,000 Partners in Healthy Living grant in 2016 that helped start the garden. The popularity of Princeton’s first community garden and the number of willing volunteers outpaced available garden space within one season. Hatch said he’s just been helping to coordinate the gardens, which will be available for rental April 1 and prepared for planting by May 1.

Hatch said a community garden volunteer group is forming and members will elect a board of governors to oversee garden operation. The board will provide planting education and handle general administration.

The group provided a list of reasons with its request why garden expansion would be a community benefit. It creates access to fresh food, helps improve people’s nutrition, lowers family food costs and helps fight obesity. A community garden enables children to learn about growing food plants and about nutrient-rich fresh foods. The resolution states that the garden will become a gathering spot that helps build community and curb criminal activity.

The City Council asked what involvement or responsibility the city would have for the land, and Foss replied none beyond giving the group permission to use the property. There is access to water at the site, and volunteers will maintain the garden plots.

Council Member Jules Zimmer said the gardens create an opportunity for people who want something like this but don’t have room on their property; Reynolds had said before that it can be for people whose yards don’t get enough sun, too.

There are about 30 garden plots for rent on a first-come, first- served basis, and Hatch said more can be created if demand warrants them. Gardeners are responsible for planting, water, weeding, harvesting and other maintenance. Gardeners may not leave water running unattended or use any herbicides such as weed or fungus killer.

People can inquire about the garden and volunteering on the   group’s Facebook page Princeton Community Gardens. Residents can register for and select garden plots during business hours at Princeton City Hall, 705 Second Street North.

Hatch said he’s excited about the expansion and enthusiasm behind the concept. “All I want is for people to garden.”

Source:  Union and Times, by Debbie Griffin, April 3, 2017

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Free Food Tasting

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Springing Into Spring Workouts

By American Council on Exercise

By Debi Pillarella

Are the winter blues wearing you down? Is that usual treadmill routine getting old? Good news—spring has arrived! It’s time to take advantage of the rising temperatures and longer days. Before you head outside to liven up your workout routine, review the following options for safe, effective and fun fitness this season:

S = Slow & Steady: Gradually re-establish your outdoor exercise routine. Vigorous activities such as tennis, jogging outdoors or even power walking should be re-introduced slowly because some muscles that aren’t as active in the winter months need time to adjust to the new climate and landscape. Doing too much too soon will only set you up for injuries, so take time to warm up, cool down and ease your body back into a program.

P = Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Spring is a great time to get involved with outdoor events such as road races and fun runs, or to begin long-term planning for marathons and triathlons. But without proper training and preparation, these could cause major injuries. Here are some tips for tackling a running event:

  • Make sure you have the right shoes and outdoor clothing. Visit a local running shoe store and get fitted for a shoe that is a match for your foot and gait pattern. Wear layered clothing so you can make adjustments during your workout as your body temperature increases.
  • Use a reliable and credible sourcefor training advice.
  • Gradually build your running distance over a 10-week training period. Don’t increase your long runs by more than 10 percent over the previous week.

R = Routine: Set yourself up with an outdoor fitness routine, just as you would when working out indoors. A 30-minute power walk after dinner each night coupled with a weekend hike or bike ride on a local trail may work well with your schedule. However, don’t forget about keeping up your strength training! Local parks offer a variety of ways to stay strong. Try step ups on a park bench, pull-ups on playground monkey bars or lunges from tree to tree.

I = Information: Gather workout information on what’s available in your area from credible sources, and remember to check the forecast before heading outside. Fluctuating temperatures, wind, sun and seasonal allergies can all present challenges for the outside exerciser.

N= Nutrition: If you thought “spring cleaning” only refers to what you do to your home, think again! Spring is a great time to clean up your diet as well. Focus on healthy meal planning to get the energy you need to fuel your outdoor workouts. Add more water, fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet and pack nuts, seeds and other nutritious snacks for those long weekend workouts.

G = Get Outside and Have Fun! Following all this advice will help you get the most from your outdoor workouts this spring. With a bit of planning and preparation, this season can be the best yet. So what are you waiting for? Get up, get outside and have fun!

Debi Pillarella, M.Ed., is the Youth Fitness Spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise® (ACE®) as well as the Program Director at Fitness Pointe. She has authored numerous publications on youth and family fitness and writes a regular column, entitled “Fit Family”, for NWI Parenting Magazine. She lives in Munster, Indiana with her husband and two children.


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Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

By Greta Macaire, R.D.
Community Health Resource Center

The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it also becomes a time for over-eating and weight gain. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can really add up. The holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun. By implementing a few simple tips you can stay healthy through the holiday season.

Ten Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

  1. Be realistic. Don’t try to lose pounds during the holidays, instead try to maintain your current weight.
  2. Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain. A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. Try 10- or 15-minute brisk walks twice a day.
  3. Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge.
  4. Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.
  5. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy.
  6. Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar.
  7. If you overeat at one meal go light on the next. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!
  8. Take the focus off food. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths, dough art decorations or a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food. Try serving a holiday meal to the community, playing games or going on a walking tour of decorated homes.
  9. Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering.
  10. Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking. Preparing favorite dishes lower in fat and calories will help promote healthy holiday eating. Incorporate some of these simple-cooking tips in traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier.

Gravy — Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat. Skim the fat off. This will save a whopping 56 gm of fat per cup.

Dressing — Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce.

Turkey – Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin and save 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz serving.

Green Bean Casserole — Cook fresh green beans with chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.

Mashed Potato — Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.

Quick Holiday Nog — Four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients except nutmeg. Puree until smooth. Top with nutmeg.

Desserts — Make a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fattening frosting.

Enjoy the holidays, plan a time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In the long run, your mind and body will thank you.


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Obesity may be declining in state, Pine County

obesity-scaleState health officials say Minnesota has kept itself a little trimmer these days, and local health officials believe that programs offered in Pine County have helped make a difference towards that goal.

 The state’s adult obesity rate dropped from 27.6 percent in 2014 to 26.1 percent in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Minnesota’s obesity rate is markedly lower than our surrounding states and we were still able to achieve a greater decrease in 2015 than our neighboring states,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Achieving healthy weight for all Minnesotans is one of the key objectives for our Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and its community and private sector partners. By working together we’ve been able to increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for all Minnesotans in every corner of the state.”
Pine County and region

An East Central Regional Community Health Survey poll in 2015 shows that local rates of obesity are significantly lower than the state average – and Pine County is lowest in the region.

According to the poll, just 9.5 percent of the Pine County survey participants had been told they were obese, though 33.2 percent had been told they were overweight.
Pine County’s obesity and overweight rates were lower than the other four counties surveyed: Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec and Mille Lacs. The highest overweight rate was found in Kanabec County (41.9 percent), while the highest obesity rate was found in Mille Lacs County (18.6 percent).

Kanabec-Pine Community Health Educator Lori Swanson  said that another health survey will be conducted in the region in 2018, and they hope that at that time they will be able to tell if their efforts have made a difference with the adult population.  

“SHIP has brought community partners and stakeholders together in a new movement toward health; it has broken down silos and has given us a common goal to work toward. The obesity rates are reflecting this great work,” said Pine County Community Health Services Administrator Kathy Filbert.

Since 2015 Partners in Healthy Living (PIHL) consisting of Kanabec, Pine, Mille Lacs, and Isanti Counties have implemented 88 projects among 65 partners. These projects focus on policy, systems, and environmental changes around healthy eating and physical activity within the local community and school settings. For example; hydration stations have been installed in several school buildings and workplaces providing a healthy alternative to sugar sweetened beverages.
In Pine County, the PIHL program has assisted with initiating tobacco-free parks in Pine City and Hinckley, funded an on-site vegetable garden at Pine Technical and Community College, supporting bicycle trails and farmers’ markets, offering breastfeeding support, installing hydration stations at Pine City schools, and offering kitchen and playground equipment.

Fighting obesity in Minnesota

State health officials note that obesity rates can have a major impact on health care costs for related chronic diseases like diabetes.

In 2008, Minnesota policymakers responded to skyrocketing health care costs driven in part by rising obesity rates, by enacting SHIP, as part of Minnesota’s bipartisan health care reform legislation. Since that time, Minnesota’s obesity rate held steady until it ticked up from 2013 to 2014 (from 25.5 percent to 27.6 percent).

These latest CDC findings show that Minnesota has returned to historically low obesity rates that remains steady on a year-to-year basis even as other states and the U.S. as a whole continues on an upward trend.


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Crunch Time!

imageCrunch Time will be serving free lunches at King’s Kingdom Park to anyone 18 and younger through the summer. The meals will be served from 11:30-12:30 on the following dates:

June 21, 22, 23
June 28, 29, 30
July 5, 6, 7
July 12, 13, 14
July 19, 20, 21

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