Critical Issues Identified in 'Pitt County Voices'
By Vicki Luttrell
Residents of Pitt County have spoken and their voices are being heard through the results of a needs assessment called Pitt County Voices, commissioned by the United Way of Pitt County and conducted by East Carolina University’s Center for Survey Research.
The purpose of the survey was to raise awareness among citizens and policy makers of the critical issues facing Pitt County residents. “We think this report will provide valuable information for groups and individuals to come together and coordinate action to improve the quality of life for residents of Pitt County,” said Ron Nowaczyk, ECU’s associate vice chancellor for Economic and Community Development.
Representatives of UWPC and ECU hosted three public forums to announce the findings of the survey to residents and community leaders. Six critical issues facing Pitt County were identified through the survey: crime, health, K-12 education, poverty, public transportation and youth-related issues. Within these major categories, issues included such topics as gangs, violent crime, family violence, medication costs, mental and emotional illness, high school dropout rates, crowded classrooms, illiteracy, unemployment, workforce preparation, affordable housing, homelessness and substandard housing, after school and summer programs for youth, drug and alcohol abuse among children and teen pregnancy.
In addition to the critical issues, the report included a population snapshot, results from ethnic minorities, community strengths and weaknesses, and appendices that include all open-ended comments.
A variety of techniques were used to gather community input on the needs of Pitt County residents. Two surveys were conducted in September through November, one of service providers and one of residents in Pitt County. Seven community forums were held across the county following those surveys, and UWPC donors also provided input.
“Several issues emerged from the survey data and community forums,” said Mandee Foushee, ECU’s Center for Survey Research project manager. “These issues were consistently cited by service providers and residents in Pitt County.”
A plan for the findings of this report is underway. Results were shared with community leaders in early March. Attendees at the community leaders meeting included State Rep. Marian McLawhorn, Sen. John Kerr, Pitt County Commissioners Chairman Jimmy Garris, Greenville Mayor Pro-Tem Mildred Council, Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce Board President Suzanne Sartelle and Pitt County Sheriff Mac Manning.
The United Way will organize a committee of leaders to address the critical issues and work toward improving the quality of life in Pitt County.
The report is available at www.ecu.edu/rds/news/news.htm.