The citizens committee asked to provide input for Hinesville’s quality of life study this summer offered some concrete concerns regarding improvements that can be made in services directly provided by or overseen by city officials.
The Coastal Courier sought to expand on this study by offering readers an informal survey earlier this month that asked similar questions about the quality of life found beyond Hinesville city limits. Though more than half of the respondents who participated indicated they are Hinesville residents, the next largest number to take the survey identified themselves as living in unincorporated Liberty County.
Some questions addressed issues mentioned in Hinesville’s Fanning Institute study, including workforce and business development and recreation opportunities. Other questions addressed housing needs and wants, goods and services providers, health care and public services such as law enforcement, local government and fire protection.
Respondents were asked to choose the public service they are most satisfied with in the county: local government, law enforcement, public works, waste management, fire protection, public health services, public assistance or none of the above.
Ranking highest among survey-takers who selected a service was law enforcement (22 percent); the next-highest group was divided between fire protection and waste management (20 percent each).
In choosing the public service they were least satisfied with, respondents overwhelmingly selected local government, at 48 percent. Next-highest was divided between law enforcement and public assistance.
Survey takers were given an opportunity to expand on the above selections, to further clarify why they chose their most and least satisfactory public services. Regarding the law enforcement selection, respondents said, “They are visible and friendly, unless you are on the wrong side of the law,” and “Hinesville police do a good job of monitoring all areas of the city.”
Explaining why local government was selected as the least satisfactory service, respondents said, “Government spending in Hinesville is out of control as evidenced by the new justice center and the pending trip to China.”
Respondents also mentioned a lack of accountability among officials and said they “seem to be more interested in pay raises for themselves and going out of county for workshops than staying in town to save the taxpayers money and effectively governing.”
Survey takers were given the opportunity to suggest ways to improve the service they were least satisfied with.
Suggestions ranged from beautifying neighborhoods: “I think there should be something done about trash on the neighborhood streets;” to ways to improve government service: “have individuals in office with a better understanding of how government should operate … have elected individuals understand what each agency under their control is doing, and whether those agencies have qualified people to run them.”
Respondents also took advantage of the survey’s option to expand on other views of Liberty County amenities and services. “We really need safe parks to take our children to; more than one would be great,” said one respondent. “Bike/walking paths would be excellent. In my mind, Hinesville is a town separate from Fort Stewart and it seems to me that Hinesville does not have bowling alleys or nice parks because it is available on Fort Stewart. Hinesville residents pay taxes and would like to have these things available without having to go on post.”
Another respondent remarked, “The downtown center needs to be emphasized and encouraged to regrow. We are losing too many small businesses there; soon only non-tax providing government agencies will be the only occupants of the buildings.
“…Money is being spent on the new Memorial Drive thoroughfare, traffic circle and new statuary when the offering of expanding AASU to a four-year branch campus was allowed to wither on the vine. Energy should be expended on meaningful development rather than simply spending block grant money on empty road work.”
At least one survey taker found the quality life in Liberty County overall to be satisfactory: “Liberty County is a fine place to live and work, despite any misgivings I have indicated above. If it wasn’t, this ‘(expletive) Yankee’ wouldn’t have stayed.”
The next installment of this series will reveal how city and county leaders plan to address issues that were discussed in both the Fanning study and the Coastal Courier’s survey.
Fifty residents responded to the Coastal Courier’s quality of life survey. Answers were anonymous and questions addressed demographics as well as aspects of life in Liberty County. The survey’s accessibility was intended to encourage a random sampling of Internet readers. Additionally, because question content largely measured degrees of satisfaction, the survey can be considered informal.
Editor’s note: This story is the second in a series on a study addressing area quality-of-life issues.