Letter to the Editor: Census data vital

In March, residents in the town of Meeker, the town of Rangely and rural Rio Blanco County received a 2010 Census form, left either at your door or via mail. The U.S. Census counts every resident in the United States and is required by the Constitution to take place every 10 years. Not only is the Census mandated, it is vital to our local communities. The 2010 Census will help communities like ours receive more than $400 billion in federal funds each year for things like hospitals, schools, job training centers, senior centers, bridges and other public works projects, emergency services, special districts.
Census information affects the numbers of seats Colorado occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives. And people from many walks of life use census data to advocate for causes, rescue disaster victims, prevent diseases, research markets, locate pools of skilled workers and more. When you do the math, it is easy to see what an accurate count can do for our community: More infrastructures, more services, a brighter tomorrow for everyone.
The 2010 Census aims to count all U.S. residents — citizens and non-citizens alike. To do so, the Census Bureau delivered a short 10-question form to every household in America, requiring that you fill in the form to account for everyone living at your address as of April 1. The form included a pre-paid envelope so it could be mailed back as soon as possible. At this time, 55 percent of Rio Blanco County residents (as of April 27) have mailed back their census forms.
The Census Bureau is shifting to the important second half of this big job, which focuses on completing the census and ensuring its accuracy. On May 1, census takers began the door-to-door enumeration of the roughly 30 percent of households that did not mail back their form, as well as verifying that housing units the postal service or others indicated to be unoccupied are indeed vacant. A census taker is a person from our community who is hired by the Census Bureau to make sure your neighborhood gets represented as accurately as possible. The census taker’s primary responsibility is to collect census information from residences. Most of these residences have not sent back their 2010 Census form. These follow-up efforts are an investment in the quality of the census, which will impact us all for the next 10 years.
If you haven’t returned your 2010 Census form, open the door to a census taker, answer their questions; it’s easy, safe and important and by doing so, you are opening doors for your community. By being counted you are standing up for what your community’s needs are. We cannot move forward until you give your answers back. Thank you.
Teresa Anderson, Rio Blanco Co., Chris Brasfield, town of Rangely
and Becky Niemi, town of Meeker