Important numbers for Nac - Census will define county for next decade
Posted 12 - 31 - 2009
Pictured: City Planner Larissa Philpot, left, and City Council member Shelley Brophy are key leaders in the local committee working to provide information about the upcoming Census 2010. (Photo: Bruce R. Partain)
Important numbers for Nac
Census will define county for next decade
By Kelly Daniel
Membership and Marketing Manager
Activity is increasing across our nation and our county to ensure an accurate count in the Census 2010.
Communication between Nacogdoches community leaders and the U.S. Census Bureau began in early summer. In fall, planning meetings began for local volunteers to work to meet the accurate count goal for the census scheduled next spring.
And there are reasons for the amount of time and energy so many are investing.
U.S Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Gina B. Moers works in the Dallas Regional Census Center and is responsible for education and awareness for 14 counties in East Texas, stretching from Marion County to Sabine County. “We’re informing people how incredibly important that they respond to the call to be counted,” Moers said.
“The Census 2010 will help communities receive more than $400 billion in federal funds each year for things like hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, public works projects and emergency services,” Moers said. “And many others from different non-profit and for-profit businesses use census data to advocate for causes, rescue disaster victims, prevent diseases, research markets, locate pools of skilled workers and more.”
“From a competitive standpoint, business people understand that strong numbers count,” said Bruce R. Partain, President/CEO of the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce. “NEDCO’s Bill King and I will head up the business committee of the overall effort. We will work through business owners, asking that they inform their employees that the Census is good for jobs and for wage earners.
“Our population count is one of our key demographic numbers,” Partain said. “When site selectors and developers research potential locations, they have benchmarks. ‘You must be this tall to ride this ride’ is a good analogy. Population estimates are updated every year, but the official Census each decade is the gold standard where everyone starts.”
County and city employees and elected officials are well aware of the importance and benefits of an accurate count and therefore, chose an active plan to achieve the accurate count goal. The Nacogdoches Counts committee was formed for that one purpose, and the committee members are prepared to share the information, educate the public and dispel the myths that exist concerning the census. The Nacogdoches Counts message is clear - anyone that lives or stays in Nacogdoches County on April 1, 2010 should complete the census form and return it.
According to Moers, in March of 2010 census forms will be delivered to every residence in the United States and Puerto Rico. The 2010 form consists of only 10 short questions that are easy to answer. Once completed, the form may be returned in the postage-paid envelope provided. Moers said, “If you don't mail the form back, you may receive a visit from a census taker, who will ask you the questions from the form.”
“But not everyone will receive a questionnaire through the mail. There are a multitude of reasons for this, one of the most common being that they do not have a known mailing address,“ said Moers. “In order to achieve an accurate count in your area, it will be necessary that Be Counted Centers are set up.”
The Be Counted Centers will be sites that will have boxes with questionnaires available for people who did not receive a questionnaire, or think they may have been excluded on a returned questionnaire. Questionnaires will be printed in five languages; English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian. The centers will be safe, easily accessible, especially for the hard-to-count population. Examples of Be Counted sites are churches, libraries, schools, apartment complexes, community and recreation centers, health clinics, etc. More information on Nacogdoches Be Counted Centers will be available by March.
“The results of these centers can have a tremendous effect on your Census 2010 count,” Moers said.
The “hard-to-count population” mentioned above refers to a number of groups in the county.
"The Nacogdoches Counts committee has now separated in to several subgroups with group leaders,” said City Planner Larissa Philpot. “Each of these groups will focus on a specific area of the community including businesses, schools, SFA and hard-to-count populations.”
Nacogdoches Counts group leaders have strategies in place, each tailored to the hard to count group assigned.
“This will be a total Hispanic community effort – not just leaders,” said volunteer James Montoya. “We’re going to hold neighborhood meetings. We’ll get information to businesses. We’ll meet people where their kids are playing baseball or soccer. We’ll go into the churches.”
SFA students could be the largest of the hard to count groups. Students assume that parents will “count them” similar to federal income tax return information. The result is not being counted correctly - as residents of Nacogdoches County.
“I am very excited about the enthusiasm that is building as we discuss the plans for every student at SFA to be counted,” City Council member Shelley Brophy said. “Contact with key SFA leaders were established during the November SFA-Chamber Connection committee meeting. We all understand that we have to promote and explain to the students the importance of getting a true student count. One way of doing this is involving members of the SFA Student Government Association. That organization will play a key role in educating students residing on and off-campus.”
Another highly recognized factor to tend to is fear. Many people for many reasons fear to disclose information.
Moers addresses the fear factor head on.
“Any personal data you provide is protected under federal law. It’s plainly stated in Title 13 of the U.S. Code,” Moers said. “In addition, your information is only used to produce statistics. Your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. All Census Bureau employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data, and the penalty for violating the nondisclosure oath is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.”
To do more to spread the truth and benefits of Census 2010, the Nacogdoches Counts committee looks forward to an aggressive public promotion.
“We are putting together a publicity campaign for awareness using fliers, scheduling speaking engagements, recording public service announcements and a poster contest. People will begin hearing and seeing more at the beginning of the year,” Philpot said.
Whatever the reason may be for someone to fail to complete and return a 2010 Census form, one fact is clear. Participation isn't just important, it's mandatory.
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Privacy and protection
Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information and violating this law is a crime with severe penalties. In addition, other federal laws, including the Confidential Statistical Efficiency Act and the Privacy Act reinforce these protections.
* Private information is never published
It is against the law to disclose or publish any of the following information:
· Addresses including GPS coordinates
· Social Security numbers
· Telephone numbers
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Using the Internet to complete and return a 2010 Census form is not possible. But anyone may view a sample of the form online and learn more about:
- How it works.
- How it affects our nation.
- Job opportunities.
- Definition of a Census Taker.
- Links to 2010 Blog, Twitter and YouTube for census.
- Answers to frequently asked questions.
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