2010 Census Count…‘Returning the form is critical’

The Census 2010 regional “Portrait of America” Road Tour, from Charlotte, North Carolina, dubbed ‘Founders,’ is in the middle of a five-state road tour. The Tour vehicle made two stops in Bamberg County on Thursday.

The vehicle was equipped with GPS technology, including informational exhibits and census giveaways, plus an opportunity for individuals to have their message added to future “Portraits of America” stops. Important information concerning the 2010 Census was presented to a large crowd of Bamberg residents, along with students from Bamberg- Ehrhardt High School’s government class, on the berm in front of the Piggly Wiggly on Heritage Highway in Bamberg.

The road tour also made a visit to the Voorhees College Campus and parked in front of the historic Massachusetts Hall. Students at the college and citizens of the community were able to have an assessment of their job-testing skills along with acquiring valuable information on the census.

Doris Glymph Greene, Partnership Specialist based in the Charlotte Region, said the purpose of the road tour is to “develop awareness and enthusiasm for the March 2010 Census.” Greene said census forms will be mailed to each citizen’s home in March.

“It is very important for each one of us to fill out that form and send it back in March,” Greene said, adding, “returning the form is critical to each of our communities because the amount of federal funds that come back into the community is based on the census count.”

The census workers said they want citizens to know that returning the census forms is important because the federal government sends back over $400 billion to the states each year based on the census count. In the year 2000 the state of South Carolina ranked 49th in the rate of census forms returned. “That is very bad. We’ve got to do better in 2010.”

Census workers want citizens to know three important things about the 2010 Census: The census information is safe in that any information put on the form is protected by law and cannot be turned over to any other agency for 72-years. Census information provides funding for schools, hospitals, education and infrastructure. And last, the census form is easy in that this is the first year that the government has used a short form of only 10 questions, which only takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Warning, if citizens do not return the form, Greene noted that someone from the census office will be “knocking on their door. Trying to get that information, and they will come back three to five times to get the information.” Local officials will be getting out the word about the importance of the census. Children, students, African Americans and Hispanics as a group are traditionally vastly underrepresented in the census.

Paul Shepherd, Partnership Specialist for this area said, “What we’re doing here today is getting the word out about the importance of the U.S. Census and the fact that the forms are coming out in mid-March.” Shepherd said that mailing the forms back in March is critical to get the “best count possible” so communities can get the resources ($4 trillion in 10 years) from the federal government.