Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton in the "Bottom 11" for Overall Well-Bei - myfoxcarolinas.com

Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton in the "Bottom 11" for Overall Well-Being

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    I am a Digital Journalist based in Hickory. I cover Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Iredell and Watauga counties. I was born in Weaverville, NC. My high school dream was to be a White House correspondent, then college happened and I got involved with the radio station at Western Carolina University.
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CATAWBA VALLEY – The cities of Hickory, Lenoir and Morganton are considered to be the 185th community out of 189 for overall well-being in the country. The North Carolina Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) landed on the list as a result of a 2012 – 2013 Gallup-Healthways survey covering the areas of health, life, work and access to basic necessities.

As you can imagine, the leaders in the MSA are not necessarily happy with the results.

"Any survey that puts Asheville 140th out of 189 and ranks us 25 points below Detroit, where the average resale value of home is a $7,500, has to have some flaws in it,” Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright said.

The area garnered 62.2 points on a 100 point scale, while the highest rated MSA, Provo-Orem, Utah garnered 71.4 points.

"For what we have in Morganton, Hickory and Lenoir are leaps and bounds greater than some other places in North Carolina and the country," said Morganton Mayor Mel Cohen. “Like recreation, like health-wise, gardening, farming, farmer's markets, all kinds of things that lead to healthier people."

Despite the concerns about the survey, the mayors are aware of one particular issue impacting the quality of life for the people living in and around the three cities.

“Obviously, the most prevalent things would be the struggles that we've had with jobs and those kind of things,” Lenoir May Joseph Gibbons said. “That's probably been the biggest thing that would make people have the feelings that they might have."

Those sentiments are echoed by certain members of the community.

“It used to be a really booming town when furniture was going good,” said Jerry Miller, who lives in Hickory. “I used to own my own furniture company. Since furniture died down a lot, a lot of job people…there's needs for more jobs. Manufacturing jobs I guess."

"You got to look for a job, I'm out every day looking for jobs," Savoy Starr said. "The bus don't go out far enough where there is jobs. You got to have transportation."

Each city has made efforts to improve the well-being for the people in the area with greenways, parks and are working to on future economic development opportunities. The survey responses will also continue to help the cities

“"We're going to try to take from that any thoughts that we can use to make this an even better place to live," said Mayor Wright.

The hope is that the people who answered the surveys will come forward.

“I'd like to meet them,” said Mayor Cohen. “I'd like to know where the problem is coming from and get their ideas, because they could help us more than anything."

In the end, residents are confused as to why the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton MSA is the subject of such scrutiny.

"I really don't know why they pinpoint Hickory,” said Kenny Hansen. “I live in Hickory. I lived here for 10 years and I love it."

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