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February 19, 2021

DES MOINES, IA – Three Iowa communities — Cass County, Waterloo and Waverly — were each presented with a 2021 Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award during the Healthiest State Initiative Annual Awards presentation held virtually during a live Facebook event External Site on Feb. 18, 2021. The award is in recognition for their accomplishments in health improvement initiatives within their respective communities.

"We are pleased to present Cass County and Waterloo with their first Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award and Waverly with their second," said Laura Jackson, Wellmark chief health officer. "The tremendous amount of work that has been done within these communities is to be celebrated. And because this work is so important, each community will also receive $5,000 to continue the important work of improving the physical, social and emotional well-being of the community."

Some noteworthy achievements in Cass County include:

  • Installed 10 raised community garden beds at Mollet Park
  • Developed the Grow Another Row program that encouraged local gardeners to plant more and share more with others through the local food pantry
  • Improved playgrounds and trails around Schildberg Recreation Area and Sunnyside Park

"Cass County's progress in health and well-being wouldn't be possible without the partnership of many organizations, volunteers, and community members," said Brigham Hoegh, wellness program coordinator for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. "Thank you to everyone who is involved in working toward improved health and well-being for all people in Cass County."

Some noteworthy achievements in Waterloo include:

  • Passed a tobacco and nicotine-free policy in parks
  • Enhanced Jefferson street and urban farmers’ market sidewalks and added ADA-compliant crosswalks
  • Enhanced University Avenue to be more pedestrian friendly by installing pedestrian lighting and more than one mile of trails and sidewalks, reducing the number of lanes and lowering the speed limit

"It is a great honor to be recognized as a Healthy Hometown in Iowa. We are proud of what our city and its residents have accomplished over the years to promote healthy living," says Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart. "These bold public actions and the healthy personal decisions of our residents are moving Waterloo toward a stronger, brighter future."

Some noteworthy achievements in Waverly include:

  • Improved the Cedar River Parkway corridor, including reconstruction of the Cedar River Bridge to include a hiking and biking trail
  • Completed the Bremer Avenue streetscape project with new bike racks and improved signage
  • Enhanced Prairie Park with a shelter house and basketball/pickleball courts
  • Added six raised community-sharing garden beds

"The Waverly Area Partnership for Healthy Living (WAPHL) Committee strives to continually enhance the health and well-being of not only Waverly, but all of Bremer County," said Garret Riordan, City of Waverly Leisure Services Director and member of WAPHL Committee. "We are honored to once again be considered one of Iowa's healthiest communities. Receiving the Healthy Hometown Powered by Wellmark award last year helped promote our vision to encourage the citizens of Waverly and the surrounding areas to make healthy choices and enjoy the active lifestyle our community offers."

The Healthy Hometown Powered by Wellmark Community Award celebrates the successes achieved by these three communities to make Iowa a healthier, more active place to live. To find out more information about this initiative, visit