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Census 2010 is coming

An accurate U.S. Census count is vital to ScrevenCounty. Those numbers will determine how many federal dollars will be available for Sylvania, Rocky Ford, Hiltonia, Oliver, Newington and other areas of the county.

The word must get out to residents of the vitality of the 2010 Census and volunteers are sought to make that happen.

“We’ve got to get everybody on board with this,” Sylvania city planner Charles Kimbrough told a small group who attended Sunday’s informational meeting at the BelieversChurch. “We need involvement. We can’t step back and say ‘we’re busy.’ We are all busy.”

The U.S. Census is a constitutionally mandated population count of everyone living in the United States. The count, which started in 1790 and is done every 10 years, is used to determine congressional representation and the allocation of billions in federal funds.

The state of Georgia is expected to gain two U.S. representative seats in Congress, but for that to happen, residents in ScrevenCounty and statewide must be educated about the Census and fill out the questionnaires when they are distributed later in this process.

Census officials already are working to identify and catalog addresses. In March 2010, questionnaires will be mailed to every household. The forms include questions on race, age and gender.

Census employees will visit households who do not respond. Officials say it is better financially to have residents complete the form and not wait for someone to knock on their door. The Census employees will be paid with tax dollars.

The overall data must be submitted to President Barack Obama by Dec. 31, 2010, but individual household information must be completed months in advance of that date.

Information about the U.S. Census Bureau can be found on-line at http://www.census.gov/.

The mail-out/mail-back questionnaire for the 2010 Census contains just 10 questions, much shorter than the pages of previous Censuses, said Henry T. Armstrong III, a U.S. Census partnership specialist from Augusta, who attended the May 24 meeting in Sylvania.

“Anybody who doesn’t mail it back will have someone come to their residence,” Armstrong said. “The more forms returned cuts down the tax dollars and the number of enumerators.”

Armstrong said the community needs to have various parts of the county committed to make the Census successful. Those parts include media, education, organizations, churches, businesses and government.

“The whole idea is to get the word out,” he said.

In every Census there will be individuals who do not fill out the questionnaire which leads to a visit from an enumerator, but those totals need not be excessive, Armstrong said.

For the 1990 Census, 80 Screven County Caucasians did not complete the form, while 245 African-Americans didn’t. That was out of less than 14,000 total county residents.

“Two hundred forty-five? That is entirely too high,” Armstrong said. “You’ve got one time to fill out the form and if we don’t, we have to wait 10 years to complain about not getting those federal dollars,” Armstrong said. “This time around, you’ve got to make this Census personal.”

Kimbrough said people must get involved in this project or the entire county and state will suffer.

To take part in the promotion of the Census, contact Kimbrough at city hall at 564-7411.