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Census planning continuing in Barry County

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Barry County Complete Count Committee is gearing up for the 2010 Census. On Dec. 1, the committee discussed several options that could be used to distribute promotional materials and information across the county over the next month.

The committee plans to distribute Census 2010 information at area basketball games during December and January. Posters and other materials could also be placed at area restaurants and supermarkets and distributed at the Cassville and Monett Walmart Supercenters.

Southwest Elementary School Principal Judy Randall suggested the committee send census information home with area elementary and intermediate school students. She offered to order promotional materials for the mass distribution.

Julie Germann, Monett R-I assistant superintendent, stated that she would request the materials for the Monett School District.

The committee also discussed options that could be used to reach local Hispanic populations. Germann said that information could be distributed at an outreach event hosted by the Monett School District in the spring.

"How do we convince those who are here illegally to return their census forms?" Cherry Warren, Barry County presiding commissioner and Complete Count Committee chairman, asked Stella Maddox, U.S. Census Bureau partnership specialist.

"You must tell them that the programs could be cut if we don't have a complete count," said Maddox. "Many times they use more programs than others do, and if they are not counted, it could impact the funding available for those programs. For instance, the English as a Second Language program is funded by the federal government.

"You should also get some Hispanic leaders involved in the committee," said Maddox. "For the leaders, the numbers will be very important. They want to make a statement about how many Hispanics are living in America."

Dennis Pyle, Monett city administrator, suggested the committee distribute information to let Hispanic community members know that the census is confidential and personal information collected from local residents will not be shared with any government agencies.

Randall suggested the committee distribute materials to church leaders who can share the information to their congregations.

"If someone they trust, like their pastor, tells them that it is okay to fill out the forms then they might feel more comfortable," said Randall.

Warren offered to contact several of the local ministerial alliances and distribute information to church leaders.

Pyle and Suzy McElmurry, Monett Chamber of Commerce executive director, will distribute materials to pastors in the Monett area. Randall will distribute promotional items to the Washburn Ministerial Alliance.

Area residents are reminded that the 2010 Census forms will arrive in mailboxes across the county in March of 2010. The Complete Count Committee encourages residents to return forms by tax day, April 15, 2010.

Questionnaire assistance centers will be available in Monett, Cassville, Seligman, Purdy, Exeter and Wheaton from mid-March 2010 through mid-April 2010. Residents who need assistance completing their census forms will be encouraged to visit one of the centers.

Toward the end of April 2010, census workers will conduct a county-wide canvas in an attempt to collect completed forms from residents who did not return forms by mail. The census must be completed by Dec. 31, 2010.

The U.S. Census Bureau is currently hiring individuals to assist with the 2010 Census. Available positions include census takers, crew leaders, crew leader assistants, recruiting assistants and census clerks. Individuals interested in a census job should visit www.2010censusjobs.gov or call 1-866-861-2010.

Barry County's census count will affect its ability to receive federal grant funding for agriculture, education, health and human services, housing and urban development, justice and labor projects. Each year, more than $300 billion in federal grant funding is allocated to states and communities based, in part, on census data.

Data collected through the census will also be used to determine locations for retail stores, schools, hospitals, new housing developments and other community facilities and determine boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts.

Barry County Complete Count Committee members who attended the December meeting included: Pyle; Warren; Randall; Germann; and Mindi Artherton, Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce executive director.

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