Lots of city governments want to get smaller. Fulton city government workers did it.
No, they didn’t cut jobs or eliminate departments. Instead, they cut fat and eliminated pounds. Lots of pounds.
City employees gathered Monday night to celebrate weeks of effort towards losing weight. 21 city workers lost a quarter ton of weight — 549 pounds — and took 27 feet off their waistlines.
Ask Frank Vescio. The city DPW truck driver squeezed through a narrow aisle to find a seat for the ceremony. “I haven’t been able to do that in years,” he said to colleagues. Vescio has weighed north of 350 pounds for years. He started the program at 368 pounds. 85 pounds and 16% of his body weight later, he says, “I feel great. I’m in a better mood. I do a lot of things I couldn’t do before. I’m a lot happier.”
Vescio worked out twice a day at New Image Fitness, which worked with the city on the weight loss program. He watched what he eat. Soon, he was buying new clothes.
“Some people say it’s the new Frank Vescio,” he said.
“It was a great success,” said Mary Jo Sawyer of First Niagara, the city’s outside benefits administrator. She came to Fulton every week to conduct confidential weigh-ins that helped determine who lost the most weight. Participants contributed a dollar a week. Half of the money went to the week’s biggest weight loser. The rest, along with $300 in contributions from the three city unions, was set aside for the one who lost the most at the end.
The big winner? DPW driver Ken Meyers, Jr., who lost 24.7% of his body weight during the program. He received the grand prize of $552,50, which was almost exactly one dollar for every pound lost by the city employees.
Everyone got a certificate noting how much weight they’d lost, and a gift bag with some goodies — not candy, said Sawyer.
“The looks on peoples’ faces — they’re so much more content with themselves,” said Sawyer. “It’s a great thing.”
“The end result speaks for itself,” said city employee Brace Tallents, who worked on the committee that ran the program. “We will do it again,” said Lisa Syrell of the city Chamberlain’s office, who headed up the effort. “We’ll continue with the weekly weigh-ins just to be accountable to ourselves and we’ll start up another challenge after the holidays and hunting season.”