Officials stress importance of accurate Census count

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Wood County leaders are stressing the critical importance of having an accurate headcount in the upcoming 2020 U.S. census.

Census forms should be arriving by mail in some local households as early as this week.

For the first time, the census can be completed online. It can also be returned by mail or accomplished by telephone.

County Judge Lucy Hebron said that she hopes having an electronic option will help encourage more responses and more quickly.

If a household does not respond to the initial and followup mailings, they can expect an in-person visit from a census worker.

“We encourage all people to reply to the census in whichever format is easiest for them so that they are counted,” Hebron said.

Lack of response is only one way that the population might be undercounted.

Another is that not all members of a household are included on a completed form.

Several areas in Wood County had significant undercounts in 2010, and that cost its citizens money from a variety of programs.

And once those numbers are in place, the cities and counties that depend on them will have to rely on those figures for a decade until the next count in 2030.

Anyone with questions about the census can visit the website census.gov, including how to apply for temporary jobs with the census.

A sample of the questionnaire can also be found.

The census questions include the number of people living or staying at the residence as of April 1, type of ownership of the residence (owned, rented) and a phone number.

Information about each resident includes name, age/date of birth, gender and race and the relationship with the person filling out the form. It also seeks information whether the person usually stays elsewhere.

“As our county continues to grow, demand for services will increase, impacting our local and county budgets which are already limited,” Hebron said. “In order to grow, our county and our cities need the funding that comes with census numbers. An undercount will adversely impact our area and our resources. We hope that our cities, our churches, our civic groups and other groups will encourage their members and all residents to go and be counted.”

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