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Census: Accurate count means more local funding

This Thursday is National Census Day, the day that people should start filling out and turning in their 2010 Census forms, if they haven’t already done so.

“Around the country, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., people will be motivated to complete their forms through community leadership, public service announcements and working with ‘Complete the Count’ committees,” said William Scott, the area U.S. Census Bureau representative.

There will be a Census Day rally at the Marengo County Courthouse in Linden, the Eutaw City Hall and the Hale County Courthouse in Greensboro on Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon.

An accurate count is very important for citizens throughout Marengo County and in its towns and cities. More funding is available for more populous areas, but in the 2000 Census, only 55 percent of Marengo County and 64 percent of Demopolis were counted.

Scott said that translates into a loss of $800 to 1,200 per person not counted. For Marengo County, that means that 18,441 people were not counted in 2000, for a loss of $14.75 million to $22.13 million in funding. For Demopolis, that means that 4,241 people were not counted in 2000, for a loss of $3.4 million to $5.09 million.

“We need that money!” said Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson. “We need for everybody to be counted. Certainly, I think that Demopolis is larger than 7,540 people, which was the 2000 Census count.

“It has to do with not just grants that you may apply for or appropriations, but it also could affect funding for infrastructure like highways or our port project and various things like that.”

Marengo County Commission clerk Meredith Hammond pointed out the importance of an accurate count for the county.

“It’s really important to us to get every person counted,” she said. “That’s how the federal money is divided up, and the money would go towards roads, schools, all kinds of things throughout the county.”

Debra M. Fox, the executive director of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority, said an accurate count would help with the county’s employment.

“From a rural economic developer’s perspective, it is important that we can document an available workforce,” she said. “That is true whether dealing with the recruitment of new businesses and industries or the expansion of existing ones.

The census provides a method to measure regional workforce density. It is very important for the marketing of Marengo County that every person be counted.”

Census forms are available in libraries and city halls throughout the county and the courthouse in Linden.