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Annual Lewis County survey says optimism on local economy down

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LOWVILLE — The Center for Community Studies has released results of the seventh annual Lewis County Survey of the Community, with collected data presented to Lewis County legislators Tuesday afternoon.

The survey, conducted by students at Jefferson Community College, Watertown, by telephone on the evenings of Oct. 21 and 22, is an inventory of the attitudes and opinions of a representative sample of Lewis County residents. The primary goal of the survey is to collect data regarding quality of life issues of importance to local citizens.

Some new questions posed this year focused on national issues.

Respondents who said they were negatively affected by sequestration and the government shutdown totaled 25 percent.

Two out of every five residents, 40 percent, describe themselves as being either very familiar or somewhat familiar with the Affordable Care Act. Nearly half of respondents, 48 percent, said they were in favor of the Affordable Care Act as it is, or felt that “the concept is a good idea, but it needs changes,” while 40 percent feel the act should be repealed, not funded.

As to how they feel the act will affect their families’ health care, 24 percent said they thought it will have a positive effect, while nearly double that number, 45 percent, expect the act to affect their families’ health care more negatively.

Nineteen percent reported not having health insurance, with 42 percent of those saying they have not obtained needed medical treatment because of cost.

The total for all county residents, with or without insurance, who have not obtained needed medical treatment because of cost is 14 percent.

Local concerns stemmed around the economy.

“Overall,” said Raymond E. Petersen, political science professor and director of the center at JCC, “there was a more pessimistic view on jobs and the economy.”

An open-ended question for respondents to indicate what they believe is the most important issue to Lewis County residents garnered 35 different issues, though 49 percent were the same answer: unemployment and loss of jobs.

“That’s the highest in all seven years of the survey,” Mr. Petersen said.

The local economy was described as “excellent or good” by only 19 percent of respondents.

Eight percent of residents disagree or have no opinion that “tourism has a beneficial impact on our local economy,” while 63 percent said the county should continue to dedicate tax dollars to develop the all-terrain trail system.

Nearly half of county residents, 47 percent, own an ATV or utility task vehicle. Of those ATV and UTV owners, 19 percent purchased a Lewis County trails permit to ride on the system.

The entire 67-question survey, including a summary of the results and the complete survey, will be available beginning at 4 p.m. today at www.sunyjefferson.edu by clicking “Annual Survey” under the Center for Community Studies.

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