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Census committee seeks government money, volunteers

POSTED July 17, 2009 10:42 p.m.
With the 2010 U.S. Census less than a year away — set for April 1, 2010, — the City of Turlock is beginning its effort to count every man, woman, and child in attempts to secure a fair share of government dollars.
The Turlock Complete Count Committee, which will be chaired by former Turlock Mayor Brad Bates and Planning Commission Chairman Mike Brem, will be responsible for the local endeavor to tap components of the community who might otherwise be missed by the census.
“The importance of this committee to the future well being of the entire City of Turlock can not be stressed enough,” said Turlock Mayor John Lazar.
More than $300 billion in federal monies are distributed each year based on census data. A few thousand people, one way or the other, could translate into millions of dollars of lost city revenue in areas such as education, housing and community development, health care, job training, and public safety.
Higher census counts can also entice new businesses to come to town, offering more jobs and amenities for local residents.
“The 2010 census will define who we are as a community, affect our political representation as a state, and direct the allocation of billions of dollars in government funding,” said Bates. “We want every Turlock resident, especially the hard to reach, to be included. It is important and worth the effort to do the best we can.”
Bates recounted the tale of the state of Utah, which lost a seat in the House of Representatives in the last census due to thousands of uncounted Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members who were out of the state on missions.
To make sure Turlock doesn’t suffer a similar fate and miss out on valuable government resources, the Complete Count Committee will embark on a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the census. The committee hopes to reach all Turlockers, including those who might be opposed to filling out the 10 question survey due to a language barrier, concerns over privacy, or homelessness and the lack of a single address.
“(The census data is) not going to be used for other purposes,” Bates said. “It’s not going to be used for anything else.”
The challenge, according to Bates, is to reach the, “accidentally invisible and the intentionally invisible,” and to convince weary Turlockers that it’s okay to fill out a census form regardless of one’s past or legal status.
The City of Turlock has already begun to reach out to local religious and non-profit leaders with a direct link to disenfranchised populations, but average citizens with a passion for their community are still needed to ensure that Turlock’s 2010 census count is as complete as possible.
“We’re looking for people that really have a connection into the hard to reach parts of the community,” Bates said.
The kick-off meeting for the Complete Count Committee will be held from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Conference Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway. For more information, contact the Turlock Planning Division at 668-5640.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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