GRANGEVILLE – What challenges do you see within your community? What barriers are preventing you from meeting your goals? What are your dreams for your family? These questions and more were discussed at the Innovia Data Walk event Oct. 2.

Innovia partnered with the Lewis-Clark Valley Healthcare Foundation and, with the assistance of Washington State University, administered an opportunity assessment survey to a nine-county region, including Idaho County. The data walk is the last piece of the survey.

“We had the numbers and the data, but we do not want to forget the stories – the people behind the data,” said Innovia CEO Shelly O’Quinn.

A morning leadership meeting at Soltman Center drew in 30 people who discussed the social determinants of health within the categories of economics, healthcare access and affordability, health limitations, food security and housing affordability.

In the evening session, held at Grangeville Elementary Middle School, more than 50 people attended.

On the topic of housing, Super 8 owner Ted Lindsley said he has been in contact with Idaho Housing Authority and “they aren’t interested in small projects such as building an apartment complex in Grangeville.”

“They want the big projects in Boise,” he said, adding he could build, but the cost plus the stringent guidelines of the city would not allow most housing to be affordable for the wage earners in Idaho County.

Jane Spencer, representing Grangeville Community Foundation, said she was surprised at the lack of local housing.

“I hadn’t realized it was such a problem,” she said.

Innovia Shelly O'Quinn

Innovia CEO Shelly O’Quinn talks to a group of people during the data walk Oct. 2. (L-R) Kim Wolfrum, Todd Marek, Bill and Karin Vetter listen.

Economic data for Idaho, Lewis and Clearwater counties showed those surveyed are most concerned about wages (43 percent), job prospects (42 percent), activities for teens (39 percent) and affordable, decent housing (39 percent). Health services (24 percent) and affordable, quality childcare (22 percent) were next, with cultural centers and quality schools following, each at 20 percent.

In the healthcare access and affordability for the three counties, affordable dental care, followed by affordable medical care, topped the list.

Within the food security section, of those surveyed, one in seven reported needing help with getting enough food while one in 18 households reported it was difficult or very difficult to obtain food.

The evening meeting attendees walked to each information kiosk in groups and discussed what they felt was important or missing from the data. Housing remained high on each list with other areas of concern including competitive wages, transportation, completing a local animal shelter, building a multi-use community center, offering activities for teens (especially those who are not involved in school athletics) and locating a local dentist who accepts patients who are on Medicaid.

At the end of the meeting, O’Quinn highlighted some of Grangeville’s assets including Kids Klub, the Idaho County Veterans Outreach and Community Center.

Others chimed in on what they feel makes the area attractive:

“The swimming pool, parks and ski hill have always served our family well,” Andrea Solberg said.

“Access to rivers and mountains,” added Laura Smith.

“It’s a safe place,” said Cindy Lane.

“We have a well-kept, beautiful downtown, great businesses and owners and the city takes good care of the town,” Lindsley said.

For details on the community opportunity survey, log onto https://inlandnorthwestinsights.org/community-survey/.

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