Our View: Amazing collection of data

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The Community Indicators Project, released this week, is an amazing collection of data that is a useful tool for businesses, parents, ranchers and newcomers.

Yampa Valley Partners is a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to support the development of healthy communities in Routt and Moffat counties by fostering communication, cooperation and collaboration. The organization deserves the credit for the Community Indicators Project, which has been published every other year since 1996.

The Community Indicators Project is an 88-page report that provides specific details about the areas where we live. The information is divided into four categories: social, economic, environment and civic. Some of the statistics cited in the report are listed below:

n 10.6 percent of Moffat County residents and 6.6 percent of Routt County residents live at or below the poverty level.

n Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the area, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all deaths in Routt and Moffat counties in 2003.

n Routt County had far more property crimes, drug violations and DUI arrests than Moffat County in 2003, but Moffat County had more assaults.

n Moffat County has a higher average annual wage than Routt County, but the living wage needed in Moffat County is significantly lower than it is in Routt County.

n Thirty years ago, only 1.5 percent of Moffat County residents commuted to Routt County for work; today, 21.2 percent do.

n Hispanics are expected to comprise 10.5 percent of the population of Moffat County by 2005, and 3.5 percent of the population in Routt County.

These are just a few of the facts gleaned from the project. The simple fact is the Community Indicators Project puts in one document information from more than 50 data sources. There is nothing else like it in the area.

"The Community Indicators Project Report is such a valuable tool," said Stephanie Reineke, chairwoman of the Steamboat Springs economic Development Council. "It provides insights into our communities -- how and where we work, play and live. Our efforts at the Steamboat Springs Economic Development Council depend and rely upon these indicators as they give us a quantified snapshot of vital information for our region."

The Community Indicators Project Report was distributed in Sunday's Steamboat Pilot & Today. Copies also were distributed in today's editions of the Hayden Valley Press and the Craig Daily Press. Additional copies may be obtained from Yampa Valley Partners by calling Audrey Danner, Yampa Valley Partners executive director, at 824-8233, ext. 241, or e-mailing her at Audrey@yampavalleypartners.com.

This is the fifth time the Community Indicators Project has been issued, but future reports may be in jeopardy. Yampa Valley Partners is funded by area governments, grants and other contributions. In recent years, grant funding for nonprofits has become more limited, and the organization faces a budget crunch. This year, financial sponsors Mountain Valley Bank, Twentymile Coal, Ferrell Gas and Prudential Steamboat Realty made sure the report was available.

Danner and the Board of Directors for Yampa Valley Partners are to be commended for making the Community Indicators Project Report happen. And as we look ahead to future reports, we would urge businesses and organizations to consider contributing to Yampa Valley Partners to ensure this invaluable resource is sustained.

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