LOWVILLE — Channelling both Richard Dawson and Steve Harvey, Jefferson Community College’s Center for Community Studies Research Director Joel LaLone challenged Tug Hill Commission members to a rousing game of Family Feud: Tug Hill Edition during the group’s annual meeting.
The survey of 1,000 adults 18 and over, about 80 percent year-round and 20 percent seasonal Tug Hill residents, showed some significant changes in opinion have happened over the past 10 years when compared to the results of the Resident and Land Owner Survey done in 2009, while other points of view have stayed the same.
“Out of 1,000 people surveyed,” Mr. LaLone began each of his questions while he projected an interactive game board presentation screen, asking those present to guess the top answers to various questions.
Survey participants were asked to evaluate 21 attributes of Tug Hill life from poor to excellent with four possible degrees.
The top five characteristics of Tug Hill life indicated by those surveyed to be good or excellent were the amount of open space, 90 percent; their feeling of safety, 83 percent; the overall quality of life, 86 percent; the drinking water quality, 77 percent; and farming forestry activity, 76 percent.
In the entire region, while there was not a significant change in the positive responses about senior services, there was an overall increase in “poor” descriptions from 9.8 percent to 15.1 percent. Similarly, about 66 percent of respondents said local road maintenance and snow removal is “good” or “excellent,” statistically similar to the last survey, while 12.5 percent described the service as “poor,” up from 7.6 percent in 2009.
The perception of employment opportunities have improved over the past 10 years with an increase in the percentage of positive responses from 15.3 percent to about 30 percent, with only 27.3 percent of respondents giving “poor” as their answer compared to 42.7 percent in 2009.
People were also asked if they would prefer to “increase,” “keep, but not increase” or “decrease” various activities and services in multiple categories from recreation and infrastructure to energy, economic development, land use and government with the aim of “improving the future” of the region.
Internet access is the area showed the most significant change in a decade, from 46 percent responding they want an increase in the service in 2009 to 75 percent this year. Quality measures also show a negative trend with 27 percent reporting poor access, up from 14.3 percent, and only 42.5 percent reporting good or excellent access, down from 58.3 percent.
“I was most surprised that despite a lot of investment into providing internet service, people are still not happy with it,” said the Tug Hill Commission Executive Director Katie Malinowski.
River Area Council of Governments Circuit Rider, Mickey Dietrich, said he thinks the speed of the internet plays a big part in that figure, as more people have basic access but the connections are still slow.
Residents are starting to show fatigue with energy projects in the region.
While solar still has the highest percentage of support with 70 percent of those surveyed saying they want to “increase” development, however, that is 12 percent lower that the 82 percent in support of increasing solar development in 2009.
Just over half of survey participants want to increase wind development, 53 percent, a dramatic drop from 2009 responses when 77 percent wanted an increase.
The study was completed between May 20 and June 6 by JCC students who interviewed 787 permanent residents and 213 seasonal residents, half men and half women, via telephone calls made from 3 and 9 p.m.
There are about 100,000 people that live throughout the Tug Hill Region year-round and seasonally, according to information provided in the survey report.
The full survey can be downloaded at https://www.tughill.org/about/survey-2019/.