Opinion

U.S. Census: Lots of vital reasons to stand up and be counted | Guest Column

It is 2010 and it is time to stand up and be counted!

Like many of you, I was unaware of the importance of the census. It wasn’t until last October when I started my job with the U.S. Census Bureau that I fully grasped its significance. With the census coming soon, San Juan County and its residents will only benefit by knowing the facts about the census and by completing our census forms.

Each year, federal funds are allocated to states, counties and towns for important programs such as schools, libraries, roads, food banks, family resource centers, EMS and senior services and more. In the 2000 census, San Juan County was undercounted, because we only returned 34 percent of our census forms. The national return rate was 72 percent! We gave away federal dollars not just for that year but for each year over the next decade. Let’s not allow that to happen again!

The information you include in your census form is, by law, absolutely confidential. There is no way the census bureau can share that information with any other governmental agency. Your information is safe! The form is short and easy to complete.

Census forms will be mailed to all island street addresses on March 15. If you have a P.O. box, a census enumerator will hand-deliver a form to your home a few weeks later. If you have not received a form by early April, census forms will be available at several BE COUNTED sites (San Juan County libraries and Family Resource Centers) for anyone who did not receive one.

In the coming weeks, we have a chance to claim our fair share of federal revenues for important services and infrastructure improvement and to improve the quality of life in our island communities. Stand up and be counted in 2010!

— Tim Thomsen is partnership assistant for the U.S. Census Bureau in San Juan County. Contact him at 378-4436 or sanjuankayak@rockisland.com

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