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Berks County receives first-ever 'report card'

By Liz Kilmer, Reporter, LKilmer@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 30 2014 03:42:45 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 30 2014 05:26:52 PM CST

A group of Berks County leaders converged under one roof Thursday to receive the results from a comprehensive "report card."

READING, Pa. -

A group of Berks County leaders converged under one roof Thursday to receive the results from a comprehensive "report card."

The report, conducted by the Berks County Community Foundation, in partnership with the O'Pake Institute at Alvernia University, assessed the county on a series of "quality of life" categories.

Data was collected from two different polls, taken by county officials and county residents. Polls surveyed people on their thoughts regarding county employment, education, health, housing, living, safety, transportation and more.

Overall, "people think the quality of life is good," said Dave Myers, director of the O'Pake Institute. "There's lots of opportunity, there's lots of cultural things, good schools, good healthcare delivery systems. There's lots of positives."

Negatives perceived by residents included the lack of jobs and bad economy, along with road and bridge conditions. Some complained about crime, especially in Reading.

"There are challenges out there that we all need to face as a community and we need to bring everybody up to that level," said Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt, D-Berks County. "[The report] helps someone in my capacity to know where to spend my time and resources and financial impact on the county."

Officials, meeting at the McGlinn Conference Center at Alvernia, told 69 News that they intend to release this type of report card each year.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for us to be able to track our progress," said Kevin Murphy, president, Berks County Community Foundation.

Murphy hopes community leaders will use the results to improve the county.

"How important the data turns out to be depends on how people use it," said Murphy. "Overtime we should be able to see improvements based on the efforts we're putting into it."