Thursday, August 21, 2014

City leaders shrink government waistlines

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 5/20/2013

When it comes to trimming excess, the City of Ottawa has the Kansas governor’s office beat.

The Blake Jorgensen-led Shrinking Ottawa Government team shed 75.5 pounds — or 6.43 percent of its starting weight — to come in 152nd out of 1,026 teams in the Governor’s Weight Loss Challenge.

When it comes to trimming excess, the City of Ottawa has the Kansas governor’s office beat.

The Blake Jorgensen-led Shrinking Ottawa Government team shed 75.5 pounds — or 6.43 percent of its starting weight — to come in 152nd out of 1,026 teams in the Governor’s Weight Loss Challenge.

The four-month competition wrapped last week, with Gov. Sam Brownback’s team coming in 184th.

“I was very pleased with how the team did — we beat the governor,” Jorgensen, city commissioner, said.

Jorgensen, who was mayor when the challenge started, said he personally lost 33.6 pounds during the four-month stretch.

“It’s a journey for me,” Jorgensen said. “I plan to continue to eat healthy and try to lose additional weight. I had plateaued, so I need to step that up again.”

The other members of Jorgensen’s team were Sara Caylor, current mayor, Linda Reed, city commissioner, Richard Nienstedt, city manager, and Bob Bezek, city attorney.

“Everybody on the team was motivated to lose weight,” Jorgensen said.

Three other city-affiliated teams joined the challenge, Jorgensen said, with Shrinking Ottawa Government doing the best. The other three teams lost roughly between 2 percent and 5 percent of their starting weight.

“To have 20 city employees [on the four teams] motivated to lose weight was a worthwhile effort,” Jorgensen said. “And not necessarily just to lose weight but to be more healthy.”

With the final weigh-ins complete, Brownback announced last Thursday the more than 5,000 Kansans participating in the challenge lost a total of 44,409 pounds, or a little more than 22 tons, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

The goal was to lose the most percentage of weight as a team of five. While final weights have yet to be certified, the team in first place when the competition ended was from the Kansas Department of Corrections, the release said.

“Congratulations to everyone from across the state who accepted this challenge to begin eating healthier and exercising regularly,” Brownback said in the release. “It’s important to your well-being that you maintain a lifestyle that keeps the weight off, so don’t stop today. I am extremely impressed by the success of individuals and teams during the past four months.”

Prizes were to be awarded today to state employees who are members of the first- and second-place teams, the release said.  The governor also planned to play host to a prize drawing for the state employee teams finishing ahead of his team. Additionally, an award would be presented to the individual losing the most percentage of weight, regardless of his or her team’s ranking, the release said.

Jorgensen’s wife, Kelly Jorgensen, was a member of the top-finishing Kansas Department of Health and Environment team, which ranked 17th overall by losing 101.6 pounds — or 10.34 percent — of its starting weight, he said.

“I’m pretty proud of her,” Jorgensen said of his wife’s accomplishment. “She did better than I did.”

Jorgensen said the governor’s challenge has garnered attention from the community.

“I’ve received a lot of comments — there were even ladies in church praying for me,” Jorgensen said. “They told me they hoped I wasn’t going to bed hungry. I assured them I wasn’t.”

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