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United Way final assessment reflects opinions of community

TONY DONDERO, Sun News Service

Nevada County United Way will soon release the final report of the Community Assessment Project.

Nancy Keil, co-chair of the project, presented some of the results to the Nevada County Business Association on Friday.

The assessment project which began a year ago looked at five key areas: the economy, education, health, public safety and the social and natural environment (quality of life).

The project, which covers both western and eastern Nevada County, included both a community survey and data collection on the five categories identified.

“This does become a tool for change,” said Keil, who serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Nevada County. “It’s about the health and well being of the community.”

About 800 people were interviewed for the telephone survey which included about 70 questions and took 35 to 40 minutes to complete. Separate results were compiled from face-to-face survey interviews outside area businesses.

The assessment cost $60,000 to complete and was funded by grants along with help from volunteers who did much of the research. A consulting firm, Applied Survey Research, was hired to assist with the survey. Keil said it is hoped the project will run five years with annual surveys, depending on funding.

What makes the survey important is that it gauges the public’s perception of issues facing the community.

In addition to being a valuable tool for business and government, the study also reveals what people want in various areas.

“It gives the community an opportunity to say, ‘This is what we value,'” Keil said.

For example, the respondents were asked what one thing contributes to their quality of life in Nevada County and what takes away from the quality of life.

The assessment of the economy included survey questions asking residents about their economic well-being as well as employment and income statistics and analysis of the housing market and construction. Research showed an increase of 1,350 jobs in Nevada County and an 11 percent increase in money generated from out-of-town visitors.

The key finding shows the economy is growing mainly because of a healthy state economy. A final report will be made available soon along with a report card that can be used to identify community goals.

Telephone survey results:

– Economy

Do you feel you are better off economically this year than last year?

56 percent said they were better off

28 percent said they were doing about the same

16 percent said no, they were doing worse (of those who said no, 36 percent cited cost of living as the reason)

Does one-third or more of your income go to housing?

41 percent said yes

59 percent said no

– Education

Overall, how satisfied are you with our local educational system?

29 percent were very satisfied

35 percent were somewhat satisfied

6 percent were not at all satisfied

30 percent had no opinion

– Health

Do you have a regular source of primary health care?

89.5 percent said yes

10.5 percent said no

How satisfied are you with the quality of your medical care?

64.5 percent were very satisfied

29.1 percent were somewhat satisfied

6.4 percents were not at all satisfied

– Public Safety

Do you think crime is a problem in your community?

40.6 percent said yes

59.4 percent said no

How effective do you think law enforcement is in our community?

39.7 percent said very effective

44.3 percent said somewhat effective

7.4 percent said not at all effective

– Social and natural environment

What one thing contributes to your quality of life in Nevada County?

Natural beauty: wilderness, mountains, lakes, rivers and wildlife:45.9 percent

Low population, open space, small rural town: 28.7 percent

Community, family, friends: 15.2 percent

What one thing takes away from your quality of life in Nevada County?

Growth, increasing population, subdivisions, poor planning, development: 30.6 percent

Traffic, reckless drivers: 19.6 percent ; Government, politics, regulations: 7.4 percent


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