Monday evening the Plymouth Common Council passed a resolution to pledge financial support to the Blue Zones project in Marshall County. 

The resolution states, “The Marshall County Crossroads Regional Planning Team in cooperation with the Marshall County Community Foundation is pursuing a large-scale Blue Zones Project implementation in Marshall County. Blue Zones is a nationally recognized and tested public health program designed to improve the quality of life for everyone in Marshall County. Through community collaboration and empowerment, Blue Zones ensures the healthy choice is the easy choice, making improvements targeted at the following areas: People; Places; and Policy. The Blue Zones Project will unfold over an approximately 4-year period and will require an investment of up to $6.1 million in resources. Far beyond the initial investment and implementation period, Blue Zones communities have seen significant positive increases in their residents’ well-being, and measurable savings in healthcare costs, productivity, and economic development. The purpose and intent of this resolution is to pledge financial support to the Blue Zones Project, utilizing a portion of the funds that the City of Plymouth received through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”).”

The resolution, which had been discussed during three previous meetings was again brought off the table and discussed with a decision to approve the resolution by a vote of 5 to 2.

During the discussion Monday evening Councilman Greg Compton said, “I’ve made it known in the last three or four meetings that I’m opposed to using city funds for this project.  I just think it’s the wrong time in history for Plymouth to be spending $520,000 on a project that is maybe at best an experiment.  There is nothing guaranteed it’s going to improve our health in Marshall County.”  Compton said he would like to use the ARPA money to play “catch-up” with projects in the city like paying cash for the new ambulance and fire truck instead of financing it.  He suggested putting in new sidewalks at 500 residences in the city at an estimated cost of $573,000 which is a long-term investment in the community’s health.  The councilman also recommended putting $50,000 into a health escrow account to work with the Health Department or help in hiring someone to work with schools, industries in the county, and park and recreation departments.  Compton also suggested using ARPA funds to improve the community pool in Centennial Park. 

Councilman Duane Culp was opposed to a lot of the program because he didn’t understand it.  He was able to meet with Linda Yoder for a few hours and now feels his concerns have been answered.  After reading literature about the Blue Zones program, he said he is impressed with the program and supportive of it. 

Mayor Senter asked Linda Yoder what the other communities and the county are doing, and she said Culver approved 25% of their ARPA funds which is $75,000.  Bremen is putting together a proposal for a portion of its ARPA funds and will review it in June.  Argos has the proposal but no scheduled meeting yet and Bourbon and Marshall County haven’t had any public discussions yet. 

Yoder said, “I think Plymouth will really set a standard here.  This will be pivotal, and I think other commitments we expect will come in to support the project.” 

Yoder said if they are unable to acquire the whole $6.1 million, they can move forward with a pledge of $2.23 million and begin phase one, the policy portion which is a 2 to 2½ year process.

After additional discussion, the Plymouth City Council voted 5 to 2 with Greg Compton and Randy Longanecker voting against.