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Doing census more important than ever

By Staff, 04/8/20 10:43 AM

PRESCOTT – Because of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for people to fill out and return the 2020 census.

Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, reminds everyone the census is only done once every 10 years and because of the pandemic it’s important for people to fill out the forms they receive and return them, as it will mean more money for Nevada County and the cities within the county. The federal and state funding is based on the number of responses from cities and counties.

There are three ways people can respond to the census. First, the forms received in the mail can be returned by mail at no cost as they come with a postage paid envelop. Second, census information can be provided over the phone by calling, toll-free, 1-800-330-2020, or by going on line and filling out a form at www.2020census.gov. All information provided is confidential, and the forms do not ask about immigration status. In fact, the forms don’t require any personal information at all other than a person’s name, age and address and can be filled out in less than five minutes.

She suggested people call their neighbors and ask if they’ve filled out their forms and if they haven’t offer to help them. The entire process can be handled over the phone or internet so social distancing won’t be a problem.  Those who may have thrown their census forms away can go on line to Census2020.gov and fill one out. “We’re pushing to get this done in the next couple of weeks,” she said. “After April 18, those who haven’t responded will get a visit from census workers going door-to-door.” This, she added, isn’t ideal and no one wants COVID-19 to be spread because of this. “Small town mayors need to encourage their citizens to fill out the forms also.”

Anyone needing help filling out a census form can call the EDO at 870-887-6208. Godwin added, businesses should remind their employees to fill out census forms as well.

Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver and Nevada County Judge Mark Glass are contacting local and area churches to have them remind their congregations to fill out census forms. This will be done during the announcement portion of the service. Godwin said the EDO has had calls from people in Willisville saying they haven’t received a census form. Anyone who hasn’t received a form can call the EDO for help.

Prior to COVID-19 closing things down, people could go to City Hall, the Nevada County Courthouse, the EDO, the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce or the Nevada County Library to get help filling out a form. Now, information is being posted on the EDO’s Facebook page – Prescott/Nevada County Economic and Community Development, and courthouse employees are supposed to ask customers if they’ve filled out their forms. Dale Booker, the 911 coordinator for the county, will be sending out a mass alert to all county residents who subscribe about this. Prescott Water and Light has information about the census in light bill, and local industry has been asked to post information on its bulletin board. The schools sent out notices using their mass text system as well.

Godwin said predictions are for the state of Arkansas to see a decline in population with this census, especially in the southwest part of the state, which makes it even more important to get a good count. The forms are simple. It has no questions about income or immigration status.

Here are some of the things affected by the census: special supplemental nutrition programs for women, infants and children; federal transit formula grants; foster care Title IV-E; child care mandatory and matching funds for child care and development fund; section 8 housing assistant payment program; state children’s health insurance program, school breakfast program, low-income energy assistance and the ability to get grants for local projects.

Currently, 40 percent of Nevada County residents have submitted their census forms. In 2010 the figure was 52.8 percent. Breaking down the percentages of forms returned by community shows Rosston at 36.2 percent; Prescott at 39.6 percent; Emmet at 30.2 percent; Bluff City at 26.8 percent; Bodcaw with 45.8 percent; Cale at 48.1 percent and Willisville at 33.9 percent. The national average in 2010 was 45.7 percent, while Arkansas had 42.9 percent of its populace fill out and return the forms.