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Census is important, so be counted

Regardless of when the U.S. Census gathering ends — either September or October, at this point — the clock is ticking to get your information filled out and submitted.

Why is that important?

I would offer that hundreds of thousands of dollars in the region are at stake over the next 10 years if the area is under-counted. The census numbers will be used as the basis for any potential grant funding coming back to a government entity.

Thus, it is imperative that everyone is counted.

Census gathering in the field was to end Oct. 31, but Census officials moved it up to Sept. 30 because, according to them, it was the only way to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to have all the information compiled. Since then, several government entities have brought litigation against the government to reinstate the original Oct. 31 date. That litigation is pending in court right now.

Local officials are concerned many residents are still not counted in their jurisdictions. Officials with the Alcona County Chamber of Commerce, for instance, released information this week that said, while Michigan overall is showing a 69.3% reporting rate, Alcona County stands at only 37.3% as of mid-week.

As a means of comparison, Presque Isle County stands at 49.8%, Montmorency County at 37.5%, and Alpena County at 68.7%.

Compared nationally, Michigan has the fourth-highest rate of return in census numbers.

Breaking the numbers down even further, the city of Alpena’s response rate to date is 75.6%. Harrisville was 53.8%, Hillman was 59.1%, and Rogers City was 72.1%.

U.S. Census officials outline a number of reasons why the statistic-gathering is important.

According to their website:

“The 2020 Census will provide a snapshot of our nation — who we are, where we live, and so much more.

“The results of this once-a-decade count determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. They are also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

“Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.

“The results will also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.”

If you still have doubts, I would urge you to turn to The Alpena News’ website, thealpenanews.com. There, on the upper right side of the main page, you will find a free access link to Census stories. Clicking on that link will take you to three video presentations from area citizens talking about how they have used Census information in the past, or why it is important to be counted today. The videos were produced by News staff in partnership with the Alpena County Library and the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan.

Again, the clock is ticking.

Be counted this year!

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.

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