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Posted 3/10/10 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Did you happen to find your 2010 Census form this past week? Fortunately, we were expecting company, so moved the snow off the front step and when I opened the door, guess what I found hanging from the inside door knob? That’s right, a white bag containing my form. Thank goodness company was coming or I probably wouldn’t have found my form until sometime this summer or when the Census worker came knocking.
Hopefully, everyone else in McKenzie County by now has also found their Census form and is taking the 10 or so minutes needed to fill out the form and get it mailed back.
This year’s Census form simply could not be any easier to fill out and return. People who are worried about the privacy implications of returning even basic information to the government should not be. The data on the form will not be shared with law enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, immigration officials or anyone else.
The entire process of completing the form takes less than 10 minutes. Okay, it may take a little bit more time than that if you can’t remember how old your family members are or when their birth dates are. But the entire process is painless and the government even includes the postage for the return mail.
While everyone understands that the Census, which is conducted every 10 years is intended to get a head count of everyone living in America, most people don’t understand how important getting a true and accurate counting is to local communities when it comes to receiving federal funds.
The population information that is obtained from the 2010 Census is extremely important to all levels of government as it determines how much money each city, county and state receives as part of different federal programs. In addition, the data helps community leaders plan and assists businesses in determining where they want to expand into.
As a result of the last census, over $400 billion is returned annually to cities, counties and states across the United States based on the population information that is obtained from the Census.
According to Max Wetz, Census Partner Specialist for North and South Dakota, communities in McKenzie County receive approximately $1,000 per person per year in federal funds based on the census data. That means that if just four people were not counted in the Census, it would mean a loss of $40,000 in federal funds to that community over the 10-year period covered by that particular Census.
So do your part to make sure that you are counted in the 2010 Census. Fill out the form as soon as you receive it, slip it back into the postage paid envelope and drop it off at the nearest Post Office.
The closer that every community in McKenzie County gets to a 100 percent mail-back completion rate, the better chance we all have to capture those federal funds that help improve our communities.