Census count coming

February 27, 2010 10:58:00 PM

Tim Pratt -


As the 2010 U.S. Census approaches, the city of Starkville''s census committee is gearing up for a round of advertisements to encourage participation among residents. 


The census committee, which is made up of about 15 community members and city officials, is planning television advertisements, radio spots and public service announcements to run on local media outlets, Mayor Parker Wiseman said. Broadcast Media Group, located at 1012 North Jackson St., is producing the TV spots.  


Robbie Coblentz, owner of Broadcast Media Group, said the ads will target the "least counted" segments of Starkville''s population, such as Mississippi State University students and minorities. Students who reside in the city count toward its population.  


Details of the TV spots are still in the works, but Coblentz said they will encourage residents to participate in the census count. Metrocast is donating air time and the ads could begin running as early as mid March, when the U.S. Census Bureau mails its 10-question surveys to every household in the country.  


Wiseman feels it is important for residents to participate and be truthful when filling out their census forms. 


"It''s the population you''re stuck with for 10 years," Wiseman said. "It not only determines how much federal and state grant money you might be eligible for, but it''s also a number people identify your city with." 


An accurate census count, in which all residents participate, also could encourage economic development, Wiseman said. Cities with larger population bases provide larger potential workforces, which could bring more businesses to the area, he said. 


"It behooves you to ensure that everybody is included," Wiseman said. 


The U.S. Census Bureau will mail census forms to residents on March 15; they are due April 1.  


U.S. Census workers will then knock on doors of households which didn''t reply, said Kat Smith, media specialist for the Dallas Regional Census Center, which covers Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana. The door-to-door canvassing could begin by late April, she said. 


"If people don''t return the form, those who have been mailed the form, then we will have employees go out and encourage them to mail them in," Smith said. "They''ll go out and knock on doors, ask if they got the form, ask they need the form, then get them to return one." 


The U.S. Census Bureau will deliver the country''s new population figures to President Barack Obama at the end of the year, Smith said, and the new numbers will become official in 2011. Starkville''s population was 21,869 as of the 2000 census.