Community needs survey shows drugs a top concern

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Drug and alcohol abuse ranks as the top concern among community leaders, according to a community needs assessment conducted by Kennecott Energy.

The company that owns ColoWyo Mine interviewed 29 people in Craig and Meeker to explore issues facing the community.

Those people were asked to discuss 15 economic, environmental and social issues and determine the strengths and weaknesses in each community.

They were also asked to suggest possible solutions.

Drug and alcohol abuse was given a 4.3 on a five-point scale. Five indicated the issue was a critical problem. One indicated a community strength.

Attracting new businesses/diversity of industry ranked second with a 4.2, followed by attracting a skilled workforce, housing and healthcare.

Quality of life, environment and education were the top three community strengths identified.

"We've already used (the results) to help us develop a five-year community plan -- a forward-looking plan we can use in our company to determine who to react and use our resources," said Dallas Scholes, manager of federal government affairs and communications for Kennecott Energy. "This is a target for help us organize ourselves as far as community donations and community participation goes."

Scholes hopes the assessment will also be used by the community to organize grassroots efforts.

He did not say which community leaders participated in the discussion.

Former Craig Mayor Dave DeRose said he remembers filling out a survey from Kennecott, but nothing more.

The assessment provides comments from participants.

"Housing is Craig is too expensive for the low-income families. They have to rent apartments or older homes that are in disrepair. We need to develop nice housing for lower income families," was one comment noted.

Another was, "Local business has not figured out how to price the good fairly. Local people feel they are being taken advantage of and shop out of town."

Kennecott's goal is to establish long-term relationship with the communities it serves in an effort to build on the strengths and combat critical issues.

Scholes said that the company plans to conduct new assessments on a regular basis -- likely every other year.

Other issues discussed wee infrastructure, crime, youth activities and tourism.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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