Health
9:04 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

County Cashes In On Casino Money, Directs It To Public Health

Wyandotte County has cashed in on its first payment from a new casino at the Kansas Speedway.

Under its contract, the Hollywood Casino is to give the county about $1 million annually in community contributions. That’s in addition to tax revenue.

The one-year-old casino issued its first check for $1.1 million to the Unified Government yesterday.

About half of the money will go to public schools outside the casino’s tax district. $100,000 will go to Parks and Recreation, and a smaller portion will go to chambers of commerce. County leaders have decided to put the rest of the money – $500,000 – into projects aimed at improving residents’ health.

“People having better access to better food, and education campaigns around it,” described the county’s health director, Joe Connor, in how the funds will be used.        

Think walking school buses. Lots of them, he added.

Connor says commissioners determined, with the help of a community task force, that the region’s overall health status is too low and that efforts focused on improving physical activity and nutrition should be a priority.

“We really lag behind, and so these are areas where improvement won’t happen quickly but it needs to happen,” said Connor.

Connor says the county’s overall stability and economic health depends on it.

The health funds will be administered through an annual grant process. The first round opens Friday.

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