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Results of South Kenton County Survey to Be Released this Week

When 3,000 surveys were sent out to homes in southern Kenton County, organizers hoping to craft a map for that part of the region's future had hoped for ten percent participation.

Instead, more than 1,100 responses were returned, or 35%.

"It was a neighbor to neighbor outreach," said Kathy Donoghue of the South Kenton Citizen Group. "Kenton County Fiscal Court allocated funds to mail out three thousand surveys with return envelopes to citizens in unincorporated Kenton County. We were told we needed at least 350 responses for a valid survey. We knew we could do better than that. We said we'd get a thousand!"

The process began more than two years ago, in December 2011, when nineteen people from the unincorporated area of Kenton County attended a directional meeting hosted by the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC) for community feedback on its Direction 2030 comprehensive plan effort. 

Organizers in southern Kenton County realized that their neighbors had lots to say but no clear way to be represented. "We wanted the plan for our area to reflect the will of the people, not just what a few of us thought," said Bill Schneider of Fiskburg. "It will be a much stronger comprehensive plan if more citizens were involved, and the idea of a survey was born."

Schneider started talking to neighbors and found like-minded people that were interested in pursuing the survey idea, including Dan Allen of the Kenton County Co-Operative Extension Service. "The Cooperative Extension Service is glad to be a facilitator in this process," Allen said. "It's a great time to live in rural Kenton County."

From March through October of 2013, questions for the survey were refined by the citizen group. Community input into the development of the survey questions was sought through public meetings, Facebook, and email. The final survey was presented to the Fiscal Court at an October meeting in Piner where funds were approved to mail the survey.
 
“We really wanted to hear the thoughts of this part of our community, so the Fiscal Court is eager to support this process,” said Kenton County Commissioner Beth Sewell. 
 
The survey was first posted on the NKAPC website in December of 2013 and 3,083 surveys were mailed out in February 2014. Fliers were posted in churches, businesses, and the library encouraging citizens to return the surveys. Phone calls were made to friends and neighbors.
 
“A 35% return rate on a survey is very impressive. It’s clear the residents in southern Kenton County want to be engaged in the planning process,” said Sharon Menke, a Piner resident.

The group wanted to have a third party review of the survey results and selected Dr. Lori Garkovich of the University of Kentucky to analyze the data. Dr. Garkovich is a recognized expert in rural planning and has helped with other similar surveys in Kentucky.

“Dr. Garkovich will provide an objective summation of the data and will also be able to compare our results with those of other rural communities,” said Sharmili Reddy of NKAPC.

The survey results will be presented by Dr. Garkovich in a public meeting on Thursday, April 24th from 7:00-8:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at Honey Locust Farms (15100 Madison Piek, Morning View). Small group discussions will follow her presentation.
 
“Of course, this is only the beginning. We will be having more chances for in-depth discussions of key concerns that are key to an improved Comprehensive Plan," Schneider said. “Keep in mind, the northern portion of the county is urban, including eighteen cities, and the southern portion is rural, with a strong desire to stay that way. We believe there is room for both in Kenton County’s future.”