POMEROY — Meigs County Commissioners addressed a lengthy agenda during Thursday’s meeting that included a presentation by representatives of the United States Census 2020 and a resolution to approve Chris Shank as chairperson of the Meigs County Community Complete Count committee
Stressing the benefits of an accurate count, Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Samuel Knight said it was crucial for members of the community to be involved with the effort. To that end, Community Complete Count committees are being formed across the country. The committees will be made up of trusted members of the community that are involved in organizations such as Rotary, County Council on Aging, veterans associations, schools, and faith based groups. Local governments are also encouraged to participate by naming a representative to the committee.
The Census Bureau also welcomes opportunities to speak to community groups and to have a presence at festivals and gatherings during the time leading up to the Census.
“It is important that we begin organizing now, the goal is to have 100 percent awareness of the census before we begin next year, we need to get the word out,” Knight said. “The census represents fair representation for our county for years to come; appropriations for roads and transportation, fire and emergency services, are based on the census data. Money is lost for each person missed, we need to convey the importance to the community of having each person recorded so that we will have an accurate count.”
Obstacles to a complete count are concerns the public may have with the privacy of their data, a lack of trust of Federal employees, and issues with the lack of reliable broadband services.
Knight said he wanted to assure the public that data collected was safe, and that it was a Federal law to not allow sharing of personal data.
“The population count determines how much funding your community receives. The information gathered also provides data that is used by federal and state government agencies to distribute funds. It is a law that an individual’s data cannot be shared, and what we are gathering is a count of the U.S. population and statistical data. Lots of things people publish themselves on social medial is more invasive that the census questions,” said Knight.
He went on to say that the lack of trust in Federal employees is another reason community outreach is needed, as people are more likely to listen to a trusted voice.
Local residents will also be provided an opportunity to apply for a position of census taker.
In addressing the issue of broadband service, Knight and the commissioners discussed ways of ensuring those who would like to fill out the questionnaire online could do so.
Knight suggested workshops to identify and provide solutions to challenges the county might have.
After listening to the presentation, a motion was made to appoint Chris Shank, Director of Meigs County Jobs and Family Services, as chairperson of the Meigs County Community Complete Count committee. The resolution was unanimously approved.
The 2020 census site is available in multiple languages. Visitors to the site will be provided with downloadable materials, answers to frequently asked questions, and information about how individuals and organizations can help spread the word.
Census taking begins in Alaska in January. Census takers are given a head start by allowing them to begin their collection early while the ground is still frozen, making access to remote areas easier than it would be after the ground thaws.
The public can begin responding online at 2020census.gov or by mail or phone in March. Census takers will only be going door to door to visit those who have not responded by the deadline. Knight noted that census takers are Bureau employees and will provide proof that they are official government personnel.
The Census Bureau reports to the President on Dec. 31. The report contains the population count and the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to each state.
For more information visit 2020census.gov.
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.