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Be Counted: Friday deadline to mail back questionnaires


Kristin Mamrack



Friday is the last day to return 2010 Census forms by mail. 


The U.S. Census Bureau will accept all census forms mailed on or before April 16, after which Census Bureau workers will visit individual households to collect the data. 


"The entire state of Mississippi benefits with each census form returned and the reverse can also be true," said U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, who joined U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Wednesday in urging Mississippians to complete and return their forms. "I encourage Mississippians to complete and return a census form, so that our state can be properly represented over the next decade. I commend the counties that, according to the Census Bureau, have return rates that meet or exceed 65 percent. As a state, we can do better and I hope our citizens will act by Friday''s deadline." 


As of April 13, Census Bureau surveys indicated only 61 percent of households, statewide, had completed and returned their forms. Of the state''s counties, 18 had return rates of at least 65 percent, including Alcorn, Chickasaw, Clay, DeSoto, Itawamba, Lincoln, Lowndes, Monroe, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Rankin, Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union, Walthall, Webster and Winston counties. 


Lowndes County''s return rate is 68 percent. Oktibbeha''s is 59 percent, while Clay''s is 67 percent. 


"Today, with only 61 percent of Mississippians participating in the census so far, our state is not where it needs to be," said Wicker. "I hope every household in Mississippi will take a few moments to complete the census form and mail it in by April 16. This will help ensure that Mississippi is proportionately represented in Congress and that our state receives its fair share of federal resources to meet the specific needs of local communities." 


Residents who did not receive census forms in the mail can pick up a census form at their local library, including the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library at 314 Seventh St. N. in Columbus and the Bryan Public Library at 338 Commerce St. in West Point. 


In Oktibbeha County, forms are available at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership at 200 E. Main St. in Starkville, the Oktibbeha County Extension Office at 106 Felix Long Drive between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or the Mississippi State Student Union. Each of these offices has forms available to fill out on-site. 


Census Bureau officials estimated taxpayers would save $1.5 billion, if census questionnaires were returned by mail for every household, noting questionnaires received through the mail cost taxpayers about 42 cents, but sending census workers to collect the same information costs taxpayers $57 per household. 


The U.S. Constitution stipulates a census is carried out every 10 years; the first census was conducted in 1790. 


Accurate census counts, especially in low-income areas, are important, officials said, explaining federal aid given to states and regions is determined by population and political boundaries are based on the latest census counts. 


Additionally, industrial and retail prospects look to locate in certain areas based on population levels. 


"Don''t throw it in the trash," David Armstrong, Columbus'' chief operations officer and a member of the Lowndes County Complete Count Census Committee, said of the census forms mailed to residents. "Nobody''s going to delve into any personal information. It''s just a matter of being counted. We''ve been notoriously counted low, so this is important. (Filling out the form) is real simple; it''s only 10 questions."




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