In 2015 — before it had undertaken the production of any original, independent reporting about Rappahannock County — Foothills Forum determined that it was very important to determine the attitudes of county residents. Eager to create a baseline for future journalism in the community and wishing to not presume anything as to people’s priorities and concerns, Foothills undertook to conduct a full, formal public opinion survey.
The Foothills Forum Survey was developed in conjunction with the with the University of Virginia’s Center for Survey Research, a unit of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, believed to be home to the best academic researchers in the Old Dominion.
The survey was mailed to every Rappahannock household with a mailbox or post office box. – a total of nearly 3,000. The response rate was 42% — an encouragingly high rate for such a survey.
In April 2016, The Rappahannock News published a three-part series on the survey’s results.
The survey was a first for Rappahannock: a comprehensive, countywide questionnaire on a full range of interests, issues, concerns, and levels of satisfaction provided to every household in the county. It was community supported in the best sense, paid for through generous contributions to Foothills Forum