Survey: Residents give high marks for religion, education

Published 10:18 am Thursday, August 6, 2015

Albert Lea is a good place for the religious and those seeking a K-12 education, according to  results of a community survey released Monday morning.

Eighty percent of residents polled rated the community as a positive place to take part in religious or spiritual events and activities, and 65 percent polled rated the community as a positive place for K-12 education.

John Holt

John Holt

“I receive respect,” said John Holt, pastor of First Lutheran Church. “I’m not criticized openly. We’re respected and trusted. When people feel the need, they will talk to us.”

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Holt said attendance at institutional churches, including First Lutheran Church, has dropped off, but he said people still feel the need for spirituality and for Jesus Christ.

“You can worship freely here,” Holt said. “People won’t be criticized for attending church. People are welcoming here. When you are in need, we’ll provide help.”

Sixty-eight percent of Albert Lea residents polled reported having participated in a religious or spiritual activity in the last 12 months.

Other education statistics included in the survey results:

·      Forty-seven percent of Albert Lea residents viewed the community as a positive place for education and enrichment opportunities.

·      Sixty-five percent rated the community as a positive place for K-12 education.

·      Sixty-one percent rated the community as a positive place for child care/preschool.

·      Forty-eight percent rated the community as a positive place for having the chance to attend cultural/arts/music activities,

·      Fifty-three percent rated the community as a positive place for adult education,

Albert Lea resident Tracie Bellrichard has had two children graduate from Albert Lea High School, and one that is currently a senior. She said the school is nice.

“They have great teachers in this community and fairly small class sizes,” Bellrichard said.

“Overall, my kids have done well academically in Albert Lea.”

Other statistics include:

·      61 percent reported having used Albert Lea public libraries in the last year.

·      55 percent reported having attended a city-sponsored event in the last year.

A representative sample of 448 Albert Lea residents was taken in the report.

The Albert Lea City Council, along with city staff, will review the survey during the summer and use the results for goal planning in the future. Input from the community is also planning to be gathered at neighborhood parties that planned for Aug. 11, 12 and 13.

“This provides us more direction,” Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. said Monday of the study. “You can see what areas people feel need to be addressed and this survey provides another tool for us to set goals and identify the needs that we haven’t done as good of a job at addressing. This survey will better the community.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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