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Census participation essential, says county

POSTED January 26, 2010 10:20 p.m.
Tuesday marked the start of the 2010 Census campaign in Stanislaus County, as county officials and community leaders gathered in Modesto Center Plaza to convey the importance of the once-per-decade population count.
“It’s our civic duty, along with voting and sitting on juries, to fill it out and mail it back in,” said Jeff Grover, Chairman of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.
The 2010 Census will look to count every man, woman, and child in the United States in order to better distribute federal funds to states and communities based on population. According to representatives on Tuesday, each person not counted in the census costs the county about $2,500 in tax dollars per year, each year, for the next 10 years.
“It is so important to Stanislaus County, the community, all the cities, because when you really think about it the money for our community … is all done on population,” said Modesto Mayor Jim Ridenour. “It’s time for us to have a better population count.”
In addition to controlling the distribution of tax dollars, census data is also used to determine the number of representatives each area has in government and the planning of roads, hospitals and schools. Some companies even use census data to determine whether to open up shop in a new region.
“When I first heard about the census for this year, I wasn’t aware of the importance,” said Ruby Kennedy, with the King-Kennedy Board of Directors. “I truly, truly wasn’t.”
In an effort to reach out to every resident of Stanislaus County — including those in hard to reach areas — community leaders offered information in Spanish, Laotian, Hmong and Cambodian in addition to English. Members of the faith-based, African-American, and mental health and housing-challenged communities were also present at Tuesday’s event.
Speakers reiterated throughout the event that the law seals information submitted to Census Bureau workers, and that not even the president can find out details about individuals who submit census forms. The forms do not ask for Social Security numbers, Drivers License numbers, or citizenship status; they merely look to count everyone with no repercussions for one’s legal status.
Census forms are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese, and assistance guides are available in many other languages.
Census forms will arrive in the mail in March, and should be returned as promptly as possible to make it back to the Census Bureau offices by the April 1 Census Day. If census forms are not returned by mid April, census workers will follow-up in person to ensure that everyone is counted.
Workers on Tuesday suggested simply taking a moment to fill out the brief, 10 question census form, and then stick it back in the mail. It takes as long to fill out as it takes to stand in line and order your coffee, said Reverend Nathaniel Green.
“My job is easy, my job is to tell you it’s quick to fill out the form. Amen,” Green said.
For more information on the 2010 Census, visit www.2010census.gov or call 1-866-872-6868.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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