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Pierce County learns importance of services to public

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news Red Wing, 55066

Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

ELLSWORTH - Citizens have definite opinions about Pierce County services.

Dr. David Kuehl, professor in land-use planning and conservation at University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and students in his community analysis class surveyed local property owners.

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Kuehl said the idea came out a mutual understanding: colleague Eric Sanden sits on the county's Land Management Committee.

The survey was mailed to a random sample of 2,464 property owners, of whom 751 replied. That represents a response rate of 30.5 percent, with a margin of error of 3.44 percent. The majority of residents were from River Falls, Prescott and Ellsworth.

The survey basically asked "the value of services to the individual." The list of services and language used for the question came from the county. The overall rating of services, he said, was a 3.54 on a 5-point scale, with one being the lowest and five highest.

The services were broken down into multiple departments: parks and recreation, land management and conservation, Extension, human services, sheriff, solid waste management, public health and other.

@Sub heads:Sheriff

@Normal1: County residents were asked five questions about the sheriff's department, with four of them asking if funding should be changed for K-9, DARE, vehicle registration and rescue units for high-risk situations.

Providing rescue units scored the best as nearly 85 percent of those responding said funding should stay the same, increase somewhat or significantly increase.

Registering their vehicles scored the lowest, with 68 percent in those combined categories.

"It was very nice to hear the feedback," Sheriff Nancy Hove said. "It will definitely be a contributing factor in the choices I have to make."

Hove wasn't surprised how the numbers turned out. She said, based on a list of priorities, registering of vehicles should be at the bottom.

At the same time, she said, if any change is going to be made in that area, she believes she will hear about that the most from the public because having registration at the sheriff's office is a convenience for them.

Nearly 24 percent said DARE funding should be reduced or cut completely.

DARE is not offered in the River Falls School District, which might be a factor in the results, Hove added.

What really surprised the sheriff was the final question - jail housing.

The survey asked was how important is it for the county to address the transporting of prisoners. Thirty-four percent were neutral, while 43 percent said it was important and nearly 20 percent said unimportant.

"I figured the majority would say unimportant," Hove said. "Those that said neutral say they know it's a problem, but they don't want to pay for it."

The rescue units and the K-9 unit both finished in the top five on ranking of services.

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