Phone Survey Helps Jackson County Leaders Learn About Needs, Concerns

"Hello! My name is Mark, and I am calling from University of South Alabama."

Random Jackson County residents were greeted with the same phrase, as polling workers with the University of South Alabama called hundreds of households to get their feelings about the county.

"There are about 35 questions total. It averages between five to ten minutes, sometimes people are little more talkative, sometimes people are quicker," Poll Director Dr. Keith Nicholls said.

The county hired South Alabama Professor Keith Nicholls and his group to survey about 1,800 residents. Their goal is to connect the county with citizens' wants and needs.

"We call you, we encourage your participation. It's a human connection over the phone and people are more likely to participate. The people of Jackson County have been very cooperative, our response rate for this survey is considerably higher than most of them that we do," Nicholls said.

And though some calls are more positive than others, County Administrator Allen Sudduth says everyone's thoughts are vital to the success of county government and services such as animal control, solid waste, and the planning department.

"We do certainly get info and calls from the public on a daily basis, but what we want to get is the silent majority.  We want those people who do not pick up the phone and call, and those people who have ideas, opinions, but have not come forward and expressed them. We want to tap into all the people in Jackson County," Sudduth said.

Once the survey is completed at the end of April, the results will be sent to county officials.