Census questions to be mailed in March

RBC I Like everyone else, Rio Blanco County residents are being asked to stand up and be counted in the once-every-decade U.S. Census.
“They kicked off the national campaign last week, so people will start seeing more about it,” said Becky Niemi, administrative assistant for the town of Meeker.
Mailed questionnaires will go out around the middle of March. For those who don’t respond, they will be sent a follow-up postcard. If they still don’t respond, they can expect a visit from a census worker.
“For the ones who haven’t responded, they (census workers) will start canvassing the area,” Niemi said. “A census taker will go and ask them to fill out the questionnaire, or they can fill it out for them, by asking the questions. If a person is not home, they will make up to three visits.”
The 2010 census is one of the shortest questionnaires in history and asks for name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship status and whether you own or rent your home. It takes about 10 minutes to complete.
“The census is important because (state and federal) funding is dependent on it, the numbers of people,” Niemi said.
Census responses are used for statistical purposes only.
“What people need to realize is all of the information is confidential,” Niemi said.
During the census-gathering period, a local assistance center will be set up at the Fairfield Center in Meeker for 15 hours per week, “where people can ask questions,” Niemi said.
The goal is to count all residents living in the United States by April 1.
Local people will be recruited to work as temporary census takers.
“They try to keep it as local as possible,” Niemi said. “We’re not sure how many people in Rio Blanco County will work, but for the 20-county area, the main (U.S. Census Bureau) office (for the Western Slope) is in Grand Junction.”
Anyone interested in being a census worker will need to take a one-half hour test. To schedule a time, call (866) 861-2010. A practice test and more census information are available at www.2010censusjobs.gov, said Kathleen Martynowicz of Rangely, recruiting assistant for Rio Blanco County. For information, call 675-5008.
A decennial census is mandated by the Constitution. The population information derived from the census determines states’ representation in Congress. It also determines the amount of state and federal funding communities receive over the course of the decade. Data from the 2010 census data will affect how more than $4 trillion is allocated to local and state governments — for public health, transportation, education, senior and other services — during the next 10 years.