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April 21, 2023

DES MOINES, Iowa — Three Iowa communities — Bettendorf, Grundy Center and Hiawatha — were each presented with a 2023 Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award during the Healthiest State Initiative Annual Awards ceremony on April 20. The award is recognition for their accomplishments in health improvement projects within their respective communities.

Six communities across Iowa were up for the award. Finalists included: Algona, Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids, Dallas Center, Grundy Center and Hiawatha.

“We are pleased to present the 2023 Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award to these dedicated communities,” said Laura Jackson, executive vice president, health equity, access and improvement for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “We received many high-quality applications, which is a testament to the work being done to improve the health and well-being of our state. And because this work is so important, Bettendorf, Grundy Center and Hiawatha, will each receive $5,000 to continue improving the physical, social and emotional well-being of the community.”

Some noteworthy achievements in Bettendorf include:

  • Establishing a Workplace Wellness Initiative and committee.
  • Built two new playgrounds, added drinking fountains and bike racks, and planted new trees in a city park; added benches and new fencing in the dog park.
  • Made the farmer’s market more accessible by moving the location to a central part of the city.
  • Created over six miles of paved trails.

“In Bettendorf, we strive to work with our community partners to provide quality parks, trails, bike paths, sidewalks, recreation programs, access to drinking water outdoors, and many other important initiatives to promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Kim Kidwell with the city of Bettendorf. “We are committed to the continued process of working together with our school districts, health department, YMCA, local businesses, and many other organizations to help ensure the wellness of our citizens.”

Some noteworthy achievements in Grundy Center include:

  • Built new tennis and pickleball courts.
  • Added new park equipment and made surface upgrades including new, accessible sidewalks and bathrooms at sports fields.
  • Enhanced the community garden by repairing 36 plots and implemented the Grow an Extra Row program for produce gleaning.
  • Created the youth leadership program to encourage student engagement.

“We are incredibly honored to be recognized as one of the healthiest communities in Iowa,” said Crystal Petersen, Grundy Center Community Wellness Committee member. “Community partnerships between organizations like the YMCA, community school district, local health care entities, the city and more bring these wellness initiatives to life and make it possible for Grundy Center to be a place where health and wellness are priorities.”

Some noteworthy achievements in Hiawatha include:

  • Developed a trails master plan that includes installing rapid-flashing crossing beacons and bike racks at city facilities.
  • Created the City Plaza that allows for social gatherings and events, in addition to new bike racks, public restrooms and drinking fountains.
  • Added a mile of paved trails to the Turtle Creek Trail system and built a new play structure and splash pad.

“Hiawatha is honored to be named as a finalist for the 2023 Healthy Hometown Powered by Wellmark Award,” said Dennis Marks, Hiawatha city manager. “Our community is continuously identifying ways to improve Hiawatha. Whether that’s through increasing connectivity or forming safe spaces, we are committed to creating a path for creativity, diversity, and opportunity for all.”

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