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Letters To The Editor


January 30, 2020


The Countywide & Sun:

I am writing in response to a letter written in a local newspaper by Cody Deem that implies I do not appreciate the Avedis Foundation’s efforts in Pottawatomie County. This is simply not true. Nowhere in my own letter did I even mention Avedis. Nor am I that person she refers to who “resents it and becomes defensive”.

When I was on the City Commission, I traveled with Avedis personnel to Shreveport to witness first-hand the philosophy and success of Community Renewal and was grateful to Avedis for bringing that program to Shawnee. I predict it will turn out to be one of the best investments Avedis has ever made in Pottawatomie County.

What I disagree with is Blue Zones’ philosophy that people will not voluntarily make healthy choices so must be “nudged” into doing so by limiting choice. Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner says Americans are obsessed with freedom and that to be successful, a “city council” must be willing to pass ordinances limiting freedom of choice. You can hear this in his own words about 12 minutes into a Youtube video called “Dan Wants You to be Happy”. Don’t take my word for it … check it out.

Shawnee leaders have already begun passing resolutions and ordinances “nudging” people into a healthy lifestyle as part of a plan to become a Blue Zones Certified Community. One of those is establishing a health zone that prohibits and penalizes people possessing vaping products within the zone, even for their own personal use. Other restrictions will undoubtedly follow and the boundaries expanded. Another is the Complete Streets Policy with performance measures that include total miles of new bike lanes. This will undoubtedly increase the cost of and possibly postpone the start of new streets and major street construction.

Last year, the city’s finances were so dire they encouraged over 20 employees to retire, cut city staff, cut services, postponed street projects, and canceled long-standing contracts. Yet they somehow found $600,000 to fund what started out as a Blue Zones “Marquee” project in 2018 that eliminates street parking on Broadway in favor of bike lanes. Is this the tail wagging the dog? No doubt, we need change on the City Commission this summer.

I have always commended Avedis for the many great things they have done for the community and will continue to do so … Blue Zones is just not one of them.

Linda Agee



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