Over the past 12 weeks, Bastrop city employees have made some serious cuts with potential long-term benefits — inches and pounds from their frames. During a Healthy and Happy Employees health initiative that ran from March 3 through May 23, city employees, including the Bastrop Police Department, lost a cumulative 137.16 pounds.

"Vantage is our healthcare provider," Shirley Stewart, Administrative Assistant for Mayor Arthur E. Jones, said, "and they helped us by giving us incentives every two weeks. They came in and they weighed us and did our BMIs, and then they came every other week for a weigh-in."

However, total pounds lost weren't the measurement used to determine periodic winners. Instead, the percentage of body weight lost was the focus.

The main winner for the challenge, and the winner of four different two-week weigh-ins was Sgt. Chris Releford with the Bastrop Police Department. Rutherford lost a total of 32.4 pounds, which amounted to 12.31 percent of his body weight.

He and his family will enjoy a three-day two- night stay at the La Belle Maison in New Orleans for his overall win. Winners at the two-week weigh-ins also received prizes, such as Walmart and Hibbett Sports gift cards.

Roanita Jenkins, the owner of Roanita Jenkins Insurance Agency, and the city's healthcare consultant, personally provided the incentives to employees.

According to Stewart, city employees loved the challenge and some, including Assistant Chief of Police Bubba McDuffie, Det. Marvin Holmes and Custodian Engineer Fred Hatfield, took the initiative to heart and walked everyday, rain or shine.

Sgt. Releford also found the initiative to be an inspiration and hopes to continue on his journey toward becoming more healthy.

"I saw it to be a good morale builder for the whole city," Releford said, "and it was an event I wanted to participate in because of that. With my competitive spirit I figured I would do as well as anyone. Now that I've done it, it's a behavior I would like to continue for days to come."

When asked if he received new uniforms after slimming down, Releford replied, "I'm going to need some new uniforms. I took them to Ms. Gibson, and she was able to take them in. They have some good seamstresses over there."

According to Mayor Jones, city employees hope to come up with future challenges.