Published: April 25, 2006
BY KEN O'TOOLE
Futures Report Spans Beyond
TILLAMOOK — The good news is that Tillamook County's poverty rate has dropped steadily since 1998, and has been consistent with the overall rate for Oregon since 2003.
The bad news is that the total percentage of Tillamook County students receiving free or
reduced-cost lunches increased by 9.3 percent. Those are just two gleanings from a draft report commissioned by Tillamook County Futures Council. The 2006 Tillamook County Benchmarks is a kind of inventory of information and trends geared to help county leaders make realistic decisions and develop sound policy.
Prepared by the Community Planning Workshop of the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon, this is the third edition of Tillamook County Benchmarks. It is a means of evaluating goals established in the 1999 County Strategic Vision, based on public involvement in its creation of community goals and strategies concerning the county's growth and development, natural environment, economy, and society and culture.
When the report is released to the public, it will be available in library branches and on the Futures Council
web site at www.tillamookfutures.org, according to Futures Council Chair Shirley
Kalkhoven. Like the Futures Council's Vision document, the benchmark report is also divided into those four categories.
"This information will be absolutely invaluable to us," said Commission Chair Tim Josi to Futures Council representatives presenting an overview of the report earlier this month.
For example, he said, he was planning to meet with the Oregon Board of Forestry April 27. The report contains information he had hoped to find for his presentation. This kind of information is valuable, he said, when he is trying to "personalize what this (board decisions on timber harvest policy) means to the people of Tillamook County."
Commissioner Mark Labhart also pointed out the need for "factual data that gives us trends and marks where we're improving." He added, "It's nice that most benchmarks are improving."
That appears to be the case.
The report carries a summary of the various benchmarks, indicating whether they're favorable, unfavorable or neutral with the use of expression icons. Here's how it shakes out: happy faces, 20; frowny faces; 9 inscrutable (neutral) faces, 6.
Here is a sampler of information contained in the four categories:
Growth and Development
Good: In 1997, only 66 percent of county residents were served by community-based water systems that met health-based standards. By 2004, 89 percent of county residents were served by systems meeting standards.
Bad: The condition of county roads classified as good to satisfactory decreased from 13 percent in 2001 to 2004. Fair to poor conditions increased the same percentage from 2001 to 2004.
Good: Since 2001, two of Tillamook County's eight rivers have increased their Oregon Water Quality Index (OWQI) ratings, while none decreased. Where data were available, other trends remained unchanged in OWQI ratings. The Wilson River at SR 6 maintained an excellent rating, the Wilson River at U.S. 101, Trask and Nestucca remain in good condition and the Tillamook remains in poor condition.
Good: In the county, wild
Coho salmon populations suffered the greatest declines between 1992 and 1998, but have dramatically increased in numbers since 1998. While the Nehalem River had the most dramatic increase in
Coho populations during the time of the last update, wild Coho populations have increased more than 80 percent within the Tillamook Bay and Nestucca drainage basins.
Society and Culture
Good: In the past 10 years, the teen pregnancy rate in Tillamook County has fluctuated significantly. In 1994, the rate reached a low point, with only 7 teens out of 1,000 getting pregnant. The rate then rose to 21 out of 1,000 teens in 1999, higher than either the state or other rural counties. As of 2003, the rate is once again declining and is below the rate for Oregon and other rural counties.
Bad: After declining numbers of users in 2000 and 2002, alcohol and drug use among eighth graders increased in 2004. Tillamook County's eighth graders are using more alcohol and drugs than their peers in other rural counties and in Oregon overall. In Tillamook County, 36 percent used alcohol and 23 percent used drugs, compared to 30 percent using alcohol and 17 percent using drugs in Oregon.
Good: Cigarette use continues to decline in Tillamook County and around the state. Since 1998, cigarette use among eighth grade students in the county has declined by almost 19 percent.
But as one project ends, it is a signal that it is time to begin yet another, according to Futures Council Chair Kalkhoven of Nehalem.
It was in February 1999 that the Futures Council released its County Strategic Vision document, based on part on a survey of 4,000 households and many, many public meetings, Kalkhoven said. Now, it's time to update that vision she said, noting that "a lot has changed" in the eight years since the other earlier visioning process. For example, she said, the county is experiencing a surge of development and growth, and there is a rising concern about the availability of affordable housing.
Last time around, the visioning project cost about $40,000, from the county and local contributors, she said. While it's not yet certain what the new process will cost, she noted that the Futures Council has a new program manager "with great skill" who will be able to do some of the work that had been contracted out previously. She said she is hopeful the process toward updating the Strategic Vision could begin by fall.
The Tillamook County Futures Council was established in 1997 by the County Commissioners for the purpose of facilitating a citizen-based, long-range Strategic Vision for Tillamook County. As a non-political citizen advisory council to the Commissioners, the Futures Council serves as a steward of the County Vision. For more information, please visit our website at
- Top of Page -