Friday, April 20, 2007

Blacksburg, Virginia: Getting to Know the Community

We are all saddened by the Virginia Tech tragedy. Our hearts go out to the students and faculty members killed and injured by this Monday's shooting massacre. We pray for healing and peace for the Virigina Tech community and the Town of Blacksburg.
The recent tragedy got me to thinking about Blackburg, a community I have heard many wonderful things about over the years. You may find the results of a 2006 community survey to be of interest in light of this tragedy.
In 2006, citizens of Blacksburg, VA participated in a major community survey sponsored by the National Citizen Survey. Here are some highlights of the survey results.
As assessed by the survey, about 11% of Blacksburg residents have lived in thecommunity for more than 20 years and 23% are over age 34. Another 5% are over age 64. Seventy-one percent are currently employed; 70% rent; 30% own and 26% live in detached single family homes. Over 94% of Blacksburg residents have at least somecollege and 28% have annual household incomes above $50,000. Four percent of Blacksburg residents reported that they are Spanish, Hispanic or Latino and 84% saidthey are White or Caucasian. Quality of Life
When asked to rate the overall quality of life in Blacksburg, 26% of respondents thought it was “excellent.” Only 1% rated overall quality of life as “poor.” In 2006, the rating Blacksburg as a place to raise children received an average rating of 72 on a 100-point scale in 2003, compared to 70 in 2006.
Ratings of Community Characteristics
In 2006, the highest rated characteristics of Blacksburg were overall image/reputation of Blacksburg, overall appearance, and sense of community. The average rating on a 100-point scale given to overall appearance of Blacksburg in 2006 was 67 compared to 69 in 2003. When asked about potential problems in Blacksburg, the three concerns rated bythe highest proportion of respondents as a “major problem” in 2006 were traffic congestion and too much growth. In 2006 11% rated traffic congestion as a “major problem” compared to 13% in 2003.
Perceptions of Safety
When evaluating safety in the community, 85% of respondents felt “somewhat” or “very safe” from violent crimes in Blacksburg in 2006, compared to 89% in 2003. In their neighborhood after dark, 85% of survey participants felt “somewhat” or “very safe” in 2006, compared to 91% in 2003. In 2006, as assessed by the survey, 11% of households reported that at least one memberhad been the victim of one or more crimes in the past year. In 2003, 13% of households had reported that at least one member had been a crime victim. Of those who had been the victim of a crime in 2006, 60% had reported it to police.

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