A Community in Need
Peach County is the youngest county in the state of Georgia. It was created in 1924 by merging portions of Macon and Houston counties. Within the county are the cities of
Fort Valley, Byron, and a small portion of Warner Robins. It became the 161st county of the state. The county is located approximately 100 miles south of Atlanta and 25 miles south of Macon. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Peach County’s population was 27,695, which is an increase from the 2000 population of 23,668 (Luckett, 2011).
While assessing the culture of Peach County many interesting facts were discovered. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Peach County’s population is racially reported and categorized by White persons 48.3%, Black persons 45.9%, and the remaining 5.8% includes Hispanic, Native American or Alaskan Native, Asian, or persons reporting being from more than one race. It is estimated each home has 3.07 persons per household compared to the state average of 2.66 persons per household (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).
Fort Valley, Georgia is the county seat of Peach County. The population is divided into White persons 13.6%, Black persons 81.6%, and 4.8% Hispanic, and/or more than one race reported. The population of Fort Valley is 9,815 as of 2010, equaling 35% of the county’s residents. Although the majority of the county is slightly higher for White people, the high percentage of the county residents reside within Fort Valley, and the ratio of Black persons to White persons is much higher. It is estimated each home has 2.58 persons per household compared to the state average of 2.66 persons per household (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). Females represent a slightly higher population (53.7%) than that of males (46.3%). Persons under the age of 18 represent 22.8% of the county’s population. Persons living below the poverty level in Peach County is 25.4% compared to the state average of 15.7%. The median household income 2006-2010 was $41,041, compared to the state average of $49,347. The below poverty level for the county is described as 25.4%, compared to the state average of 15.7%. Specifically, Fort Valley’s median annual income 2006-2010 was $29,255. The below poverty level for Fort Valley was 38.3% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). Forty-two percent of children living in Peach County live in single parent households compared to state average of 36%. Peach County residents have ample opportunity for employment with Robins Air Force Base, Houston Medical Center located approximately twenty miles from the county seat of Fort Valley. Blue Bird, a leading school bus development industry, is located in the heart of Fort Valley. The census bureau estimates there are approximately 180,000 jobs available in the central Georgia region (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009).
Peach County has access to three hospitals in the immediate area: Peach Regional Hospital located in Fort Valley; Houston Healthcare located in Warner Robins and Perry; and The Medical Center of Central Georgia located in Macon. Although Peach County residents have access to the same hospitals as Bibb and Houston County residents, the mortality and morbidity rate is significantly higher. Primary care physicians are available 2,458.1:1 per population. The state average is 1.024:1 (University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI, 2012). The correlation between the high poverty level and lower education level (Bachelor's degree or higher, percentage of persons age 25+, 2006-2010 is 18.3% compared to the state average of 27.2%) plays a significant role (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). Higher poverty levels tend to correlate with premature deaths (years lost before the age of 75), less preventative health care, poor health habits (smoking, lack of physical exercise, alcoholism, and drug abuse), sexually transmitted diseases (872 per 100,000 population), increased obesity, and above average teenage (between 15-19 years