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The city is asking its residents to fill out a community input survey in an effort to shape the future of the city.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF ST. HELENS - Rachael Barry is Government Affairs and Project Support Specialist for the city of St. Helens. If you live in St. Helens and would like to give local officials a piece of your mind, you're in luck.

St. Helens officials are asking residents to fill out a community input survey, sharing with them their likes, dislikes and priorities for the city.

Survey results, according to officials, will help align city priorities and shape the future of St. Helens.

St. Helens government affairs and project support specialist Rachael Barry has been keeping tabs on the survey. She said by the end of last week, 400 responses had been received.

Barry said in the past couple of years, St. Helens has restarted strategic planning activities, and an important part of building that plan is hearing from city residents.

"We really set out to get a better picture of what residents think of our current services, also what our community expects of our city leadership and the service we provide," Barry said. "There are many different ways to engage and we really wanted to get to know how best to communicate. What are different ways folks can plug in."

The survey covers a wide range of topics, including core services such as water, sewer and streets.

"We cover public safety," Barry said. "We're asking for input on interactions with our police department."

The survey begins by asking people what they like most about living in St. Helens.

"This is really important for us to know as we continue to build on shared values," Barry explained. "We really set out to get an understanding of what folks love about our town. We want to work to preserve that character."

The survey will also seek comments on the greatest challenge facing St. Helens in the next 10 years. Officials say they are looking for opinions about city leadership and how it can improve.

Barry said survey results go to the City Council, the leadership team at City Hall, and all municipal department heads.

Noting that St. Helens has limited resources, Barry said, "We really want to have the most direct, positive impact with those limited resources."

While Barry could not provide any preliminary survey findings, she did comment on the last survey that was done.

"We had really high satisfaction rates for our police department and for customer service provided by the city," Barry said. "Also, our library and recreation programs came out very strong and folks really expressed their appreciation for those programs."

Barry continued, "On the side of areas for improvement, last time we heard that we can improve planning and managing growth. I'm really interested to see how we've done in the past two years."

Barry said there is a spot in the survey where you can provide an open-ended comment, perhaps a chance simply to share your opinion of St. Helens or its city government.

"If there's anything you would like to share, or if you need follow up, we encourage folks to use that spot," Barry said. "It's really great and we get a really high number of comments. Folks care enough to take the survey and they care enough about our city to chime in. That's really cool and really humbling."

The survey is open through Nov. 15. The easiest way to gain access to the survey is to visit the city website, where the home screen will direct you to the survey.

Paper surveys are available at the St. Helens Public Library.

Also, flyers around town will allow citizens can scan a code to get the survey.

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