WARREN - The city has been recognized as a ''Healthy Community'' by the Ohio Department of Health, marking the sixth consecutive year for the special honor.
This year's award was a special platinum-level honor of five gold honors and one silver honor for being a healthy community. Warren has received five or more gold stars since the start of the Healthy Ohio awards in 2006.
The award was presented at the Ohio Society for Public Health Education Institute conference in October at Deer Creek State Park.
Mel Milliron, health educator at the Trumbull County Health Department, said each year the bar is raised to receive the award, which recognizes efforts to improve the quality of life for residents and recognizes outstanding achievements of communities pursuing healthy behavior.
''They make it a little tougher every year to get. Warren city has been able to keep up each year with all that it has been doing,'' Milliron said.
The city was recognized for its community gardens, sidewalk improvements, downtown crosswalks, benches, bike trails, shade trees and opening of old or new parks. Handicap-accessible paths were made to the Victory Garden. Events such as Bike to Work Day were held.
Milliron said the Victory Garden was highlighted. It opened in 2010 and today is used as a training site for the Ohio State University extension and donates produce grown there to Warren city schools. The schools have their own salsa garden. There is a handicap-accessible tunnel garden.
''The key to the success is collaboration and partnership. More than a dozen agencies and institutions have contributed to the garden's success,'' Milliron said.
Mayor Doug Franklin said much of what has been accomplished to earn the city the award is part of the strategic action plan.
''We have been implementing the strategic plan in ways that have benefitted the city,'' Franklin said.
He said he inherited the program from former Mayor Michael O'Brien and it shows the city has been working very hard to follow the strategic plan and improve quality of life in the city.
''What we have done has helped the community and citizens to be healthier. I couldn't be more proud to receive this award,'' he said.
Warren, among 14 communities to receive an award this year, was recognized for achievements in developing and implementing health-related policies and providing healthy community environments. The award recognizes communities' efforts in enabling employees, residents and visitors to make healthy choices including in physical activity, eating well, nutritious foods and avoiding tobacco.
Milliron, who submitted the application for the award, said this is just one way to bring community awareness to healthy living. He said many agencies and organizations have contributed and partnered with one another and the city to making Warren a healthy community such as tobacco prevention, nutrition, exercise and outdoor recreation.
A healthy coalition promoted wellness and better quality of life.
The only other community to receive the platinum award is Westerville in Franklin Township, which has received seven gold awards.