Town hall meeting to cover the 2010 census

ALBANY -- It is in the best interests of everyone in Dougherty County to be counted in the upcoming 2010 census, officials said. They would like to get information on the census and its importance out to people in Albany and the county.

Anyone who needs convincing or more information about the census should attend the 10 a.m. Saturday town hall meeting at the East Albany Community center, 1721 E. Oglethorpe Blvd., said Jon Howard, Albany City commissioner.

"Being counted in the census will be one of the most important civic duties a resident can do for the betterment of the city," Howard said. "The U.S. census takes place every 10 years. Participation helps the city receiving the funding that will ultimately improve the quality of life for all residents."

Scheduled to speak at this month's town hall are Michael McCoy, assistant county administer, and Howard Brown, director of planning.

The higher the count for the county and the city, the more funds become available in the form of government grants, Brown said.

"For each census form that is not returned we lose $1,000 from the government," Brown said. "That money goes for senior centers, Head Start programs, unemployment compensation and many, many other programs."

Last census year the area under-performed the national average of 67 percent by having 65 percent of forms returned, Brown said. This year the U.S. Census Bureau has set a goal of 73 percent returns for the area, Howard said.

"Of course we want 100 percent. We want to at least send our returns north of 73 percent," Brown said. "The census is confidential. We don't ask for social security numbers and it takes less than 10 minutes to fill out."

Brown will bring a lot of information including handouts to the town hall meeting hosted by Howard.

"Please count, because we count," Howard said. "Count today, make tomorrow count."