The United States Census is slated for April 2010, and Polk County residents are currently forming a Complete County Committee (CCC) to assist in the information collection.
An informational meeting was held last Tuesday, Dec. 1, at the Polk Tax Assessor’s Office, located at 144 West. Ave. in Cedartown. U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Ed Mitchell was on hand to answer questions and explain literature to those interested in helping with the Census.
“This meeting is about educating the public,” he said. “It’s our job to get the word out, and that’s what we’re doing here.”
According to information obtained at the meeting, the U.S. Census Bureau will hire hundreds of thousands of census takers over the next few months. The job is a temporary, part-time position that allows workers to interact with their community and collect data needed for the Census.
The CCC is made up of volunteers to increase awareness about the census and motivate residents in the community to respond. Mitchell spoke on developing support in places like the local media and churches to get the word out about the upcoming census.
Local organizers Sandra Galloway and John Moore are seeking business owners, librarians, teachers, pastors, government officials and ordinary citizens to help drum up support for the Census.
In March of 2010, a short, ten-question form will be sent to every household in the nation, which the public completes and returns to the government. Census takers will then venture out in an attempt to obtain any information that was not mailed in on the preferred date.
Mitchell stressed that the process was stress-free and safe, as individual Census data is only released to the public after 74 years, and employees of the Bureau are subject to a $250,000 fine and a five-year prison terms for disclosing such information.
“No court of law, not even the President of the Unites States, can access your individual responses,” he said.
The data collected from the 2010 Census will be used for several things, including developing job programs where needed, establishing demographics and property values for potential homeowners and corporations, and allowing the general allocation of funds. For every person that is counted in the upcoming Census, the community will receive about $1,700 of government funding.
The data is also used for the allocation of seats within the House of Representatives. Based on recent population changes, Mitchell believes that if enough state residents submit their forms, Georgia will receive an additional House seat, ultimately giving the state more influence in Washington.
In 2000 during the last Census, 67 percent of people responded nationwide. In Polk County, 67 percent in Cedartown responded, 64 percent in Aragon, and 68 percent in Rockmart. This time, officials are hoping for higher numbers by targeting certain groups.
Sectors especially difficult to count include those living in extremely rural areas, high school dropouts, males age 18-34, and the elderly, and Mitchell has encouraged members of the CCC to focus on getting these groups counted.
“You can go out, and they trust you,” he said. “People here in Polk County are more likely to hear their neighbors and return those forms.”
For more information about the 2010 Census, go to 2010census.gov. More information on the CCC and example copies of the Census form are also available at the Cedartown Standard office, 213 Main St.