The college's hometown continues to make the news for its high quality of life.

The college's hometown continues to make the news for its high quality of life.

The Holland-Grand Haven metro area led the nation in 2009 in whether or not residents feel safe walking alone at night and in providing access to a safe place to exercise.  The two categories are among 13 contributing to the area's overall first-place ranking nationally in providing basic access to needs, according to the "Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index" released earlier this year.

Gallup highlighted the basic-needs rankings in a news release on Monday, May 10.

The Gallup-Healthways report released in February ranked Holland-Grand Haven second in the nation behind only Boulder, Colo., in overall well-being.  The ranking earned national attention, including a segment on ABC's "World News with Diane Sawyer."

The overall rankings were based on six sub-indices.  In addition to placing first in basic access to necessities, Holland-Grand Haven also placed first in physical health.  The area's rankings in the remaining four sub-indices were:  life evaluation, second; emotional health, third; work environment, 39th; and healthy behavior, 63rd.

In the May 10 release, Gallup noted that the data "document an important link between meeting residents' basic needs and crime in their areas.  Analysis of the most recent FBI crime statistics available, from 2008, and Basic Access Index data from the same year, finds that the metro areas with the best Basic Access Index scores consistently had lower violent crime and property crime rates than those with higher scores."

"The relationship between basic access and crime documents the extent to which providing for residents' basic needs can have an impact beyond more obvious improvements in health, nutrition and shelter," the release continued.

The WBI is the product of a 25-year partnership between Gallup and Healthways to measure the state of well-being and quality of life in America, to quantify and establish a correlation between the places where people work and the communities in which they live and their well-being.  The rankings are not intended to be a competition but instead to provide government policy-makers, community leaders, media agencies, employers, health plans and healthcare providers with detailed information about where communities are doing well, where they are struggling and where to best target policies and investments to assist residents to maximize their well-being.

The 42 core questions that make up the WBI survey were designed to measure how respondents are faring in all aspects of their lives:  physically, emotionally, socially and professionally, and also to take a daily pulse of how Americans rate the overall quality of their current life and outlook for the future.  The results are based on more than 353,000 surveys completed from January 2, 2009, through December 30, 2009.

The survey's geographical organization - such as citing Holland and Grand Haven together - follows the U.S. Census Bureau's definition for Metropolitan Statistical Areas.  The city areas were grouped based on population size, and include all cities with a population of greater than 20,000.

The full Gallup news release is available online at: