HANCOCK - Ray Sharp's colleagues were so impressed with his efforts in building healthy communities, they decided he should be rewarded for the effort.
On April 13, Sharp, who is manager of community planning and preparedness at the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, received a Hometown Health Hero award from the Michigan Department of Community Health.
Guy St. Germain, health officer/executive officer for the health department, said it was that acknowledgment of Sharp's contribution to the healthy communities concept by other health care officials throughout the state which led to his being chosen for the award, one of about 40.
"Ray was nominated by some of his peers inside the health-promotion community," St. Germain said.
The award for Sharp means the efforts of the local health department are appreciated by MDCH officials, St. Germain said.
"The health department is pleased the programs Ray heads were recognized at the state level," he said.
St. Germain said Sharp's job involves a new direction for the health department in working with local governments to encourage planning, which encourages healthy living.
"It's an exciting new direction," he said. "The idea is to change the community so it will be easy for people to choose healthy lifestyles."
Sharp has taken to that new role enthusiastically, St. Germain said.
"He works hard at promoting health and fitness," he said.
In a written statement about Sharp's award, MDCH Director Olga Dazzo said Sharp's work is an important effort toward promoting healthy activities, such bicycling, walking and running through the creation of bike lanes and safe sidewalks.
"Ray Sharp took the initiative to encourage residents to embrace physical activity and a healthier means of transportation," she said.
Sharp who has been with the WUPHD since 2000, said the award was specifically for the work he's been doing with the city of Houghton to promote its Complete Streets efforts, which includes allowing non-motorized transportation in the city's future street planning.
Although he's pleased to have been given the award, Sharp said Houghton officials and volunteers have been working on the effort to include non-motorized travel in the city for years.
"I'm happy Houghton is being recognized for the work they're doing to make a healthy community," he said.