Bedford County Citizen Satisfaction Survey, Roanoke Times

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Bedford County Gets High Marks in Survey

By JAY CONLEY

BEDFORD -- Bedford County residents gave the county government high marks in emergency rescue services, tourism, health department services and law enforcement protection in a recent survey created to measure the county's quality of life.

The survey, conducted by the Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia at a cost of $40,000, contacted 1,445 county residents spread evenly throughout the county's seven election districts.

County Administrator Bill Rolfe said the survey will help the county's board of supervisors as it works on the county's comprehensive plan for future growth.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, 67 percent of all surveyed rated the county as an 8 or higher on overall quality of life.

Overall satisfaction with county services ranked 83.6 percent. Specifically, some of the services that received an approval rating over 80 percent included the sheriff's department, tourism, library services, the health department, and fire and emergency rescue services.

Residents' top three concerns regarding the county's growth were: Providing quality education; protecting water quality at Smith Mountain Lake and in streams and wells; and maintaining fire and rescue services.

When asked if they trusted their local government, about 10 percent of the respondents said they trusted the county "just about always," while about 50 percent said they trusted the county "most of the time."

Those figures, said Kate Wood, associate director of the Center for Survey Research, indicate "Bedford does better than the average local government."

Rolfe said there were areas where the county needs to improve. The survey ranked low the county's efforts to attract economic development and higher-paying jobs, informing citizens about county programs and services, and efforts to preserve farmland and forests.

The survey's margin of error was plus or minus 2.6 percent.

In other business, the supervisors appointed Tony Ware as chairman and Bobby Pollard as vice chairman for the year. They also approved a proposal by the sheriff's department to apply for a $450,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for the county's Operation Blue Ridge Thunder Internet Crimes Against Children program.