January 11, 2013


Forum examines community issues

Staff Reporter

Cortland County is making progress in youth issues and health, local leaders said Thursday while outlining goals for 2013 during the Cortland Community Counts Forum.
The forum’s main focuses were health, youth, housing, economic and sustainability goals. All were part of the Cortland Counts in-depth report, which was distributed at the meeting attended by about 150 people.
Joan Martin, executive director for Seven Valleys Health Coalition, also presented the Cortland Counts Update, which tracks progress in the areas that are of most concern to the community.
The report was released in July, outlining how the community fared in 2011. The 2012 report will be released around the same time this year.
This was the 12th consecutive year the forum was held. The banquet room at the Ramada Inn was nearly full of people from the community and elected officials such as Mayor Brian Tobin and city aldermen.
“We spent a ton of time doing comprehensive work on this report,” Martin said. “We do one assessment per year, but every four years we do a crazy assessment that goes quite in-depth about community strengths, weaknesses, while brainstorming ways to help either fix issues, or find ways to build a better community.”
The report compared data from upstate counties to the state and nation. Upstate is defined as 57 of 62 counties, excluding New York City and Long Island. The report shows that residents upstate want to meet the Healthy People 2020 goals, which were put out by the federal Centers for Disease Control.
The health goals for 2013 are increasing the availability and accessibility to mental and behavioral health services; chronic disease prevention and control; reducing the rates of alcohol and tobacco use, as well as illegal drug use with an emphasis on reducing the abuse of prescription drugs; increased access to health care services and improved health of mothers, babies and children.
“These are important trends not only here, but in the state and nation, and they need to be addressed,” said Jackie Carlton, program director for Seven Valleys. “It’s important for the future of the city, county, state and country.”
Leslie Wilkins, assistant director for Cortland Prevention Resources, a division of Family Counseling Services, spoke about the progress and updates on youth issues.
She worked in conjunction with Cortland Area Communities that Care to reduce substance abuse and provide positive activities for local youths.
For instance, Cortland County’s teen pregnancy rate is 14.4 pregnancies per 1,000 teens as of 2009, the last year data was available. That is far below the state average of 31.4 per 1,000.
The county did not fare well in reports of children being mistreated or abused, The county’s rate is at 40 percent as of 2010, while the state rate is 18.6 percent.
The youth goals include increasing access to family and parenting resources by increasing community awareness that these programs are there to help.
Chris Carrick, energy program manager for Central New York Regional Planning Development Board, spoke about the region’s sustainability and energy plan. He said education such as workshops to educate the community on sustainability are a step toward meeting the goal of the community becoming more sustainable, or energy efficient.
Steve Cinquanti, owner of Cinquanti Real Estate, spoke about local housing issues, focusing on awareness and education about issues through news media and public events.
He said progress and tracking all issues will help “prioritize outreach efforts and future strategies.” He also focused on how current housing can be fixed up and how new neighborhoods can be developed.
Garry VanGorder executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency, closed out the meeting by speaking about economic issues.


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