by Taylor Bryant
The University of West Georgia’s College of Social Sciences hosted its second annual State of Community event on Thursday, Feb. 23. The event, designed to bring local organizations together for collaborative solutions for alleviating poverty, welcomed hundreds of community employees and leaders from Carroll County.
“We are forming lots of new connections within our community, and with those connections, we are forming lots of new ideas that can help us do more to help others in poverty,” said Dr. Jane McCandless, dean of the College of Social Sciences.
The event kicked off with current findings being presented on poverty demographics and voting patterns.
Poverty in Carrollton by Dr. Winston Tripp
Dr. Winston Tripp, assistant professor of sociology and director of the UWG Data Analysis and Visualization Lab, presented on social well-being indicators for Carroll County, analyzing both material living conditions and quality of life based on the latest population data.
“The newest information this year is that for Carroll County we’re starting to dip back down in terms of meeting income,” said Tripp, noting that the numbers were an estimate of the sample. “We continued to explore that information just like we did last year. We wanted to continue to look at things like poverty.”
According to Tripp’s findings, the number of children living in poverty in Carroll County rose significantly over the past year. For 2016, 34 percent of children in Carroll County are living in poverty, eight percent higher than the state’s poverty rate.
- The percentage of children in poverty has been gradually increasing the last few years in both Carroll County and has jumped up to 33 percent in Carroll County in 2016.
- The percentage of children in single parent households has been increasing from 28 to 34 percent in Carroll County.
The estimated median household income has increased in Carroll County between 2013 and 2015 but dropped from $45,493 in 2015 to $43,400 in 2016.
The unemployment rate in Carroll County in 2016 has dropped to 5.7 percent.
Violent crime has decreased in Carroll County in 2015 and 2016, approaching the lower rate in Georgia. Motor vehicle crash deaths have declined in Carroll County since 2011, but the rate is still nearly double that of Georgia
Voter Turnout by Dr. Sal Peralta
“Elections have consequences, and that does not necessarily mean that they are good,” said Peralta, chair of the Department of Political Science/Planning and professor of political science. “In Carroll County 41 percent of the population who vote or have the potential to vote tend to live in rural areas.”
Key findings from the study include:
- Rural areas of Carroll County - Centerpoint, Hulett, Kansas, Roopville, etc., show a consistent pattern of higher voter turnout.
- Urban areas of Carroll County - Carrollton, Temple and Villa Rica City show a consistent pattern of lower voter turnout.
- Voter turnout is consistently highest in Centerpoint, which is south of Temple, and consistently lowest in west Carrollton, which is north of UWG.
“What you have to think about is what are the consequences of the choices, in terms of the kind of representation that we get. It doesn’t mean you get a bad one vs. a good one but it means there will be different choices made depending who gets elected,” said Peralta. “Then we have the general election and there is greater turnout.”
On the larger scale, there’s a shift. For example, for the 2016 primary election west Carrollton had the lowest level of turnout. Centerpoint showed up as one of the places people seemed more engaged.
“What I want you to start thinking about are the consequences of elections in which a greater number of people turnout to vote, and this is just for presidential election,” Peralta concluded. “Who is voting and why?”
To view the full findings, please visit www.westga.edu/academics/coss/state-of-community.php.
Following individual presentations, there was a panel discussion from the university and the community discussing local poverty interventions, areas for community and university intervention and policy approaches to poverty alleviation. Attendees were able to discuss concerns, ask questions and hear stories of local residents’ experience in gaining assistance to overcome poverty. The event ended with workshops on leadership succession, media relations for nonprofits, emergency management in Carroll County and creating budgets for grant proposals.