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Chambers County to make final census push

With Sept. 30 being the final day to respond to the 2020 U.S.. Census, the Chambers County Census Committee is planning on a big final push to get as many people counted as possible.

“Governor Kay Ivey set a goal of 70 percent as the statewide goal,” said Committee Chairman Sam Bradford. “We are close to 60 percent, but we’d like to be higher than that.”

The latest response rate has Alabama at 61.6 percent. Chambers County is at 57 percent, the City of Valley at 59 percent, Lanett at 55.4 percent and LaFayette at 49.8 percent.

“We’ve tried really hard to get the word out about this, and how important it is,” Bradford said. “Early on, we met with 35 business and community leaders throughout the county to talk about having a good count. We’ve put up signs all over the county encouraging everyone to respond. We will be putting up some new signs in the coming weeks. They will get across that it takes only six minutes to fill it out, and you doing that will mean a lot to the whole county.”

Governor Ivey has made it plain that Alabama needs to come through on this. The state is on the bubble and could lose a congressional seat, possibly two.

“The Census is what’s used to divide $675 billion at the national level,” Bradford said. “You shortchange yourself on this with a low count, and we don’t want to do that.”

Disaster relief each state receives is tied to Census data. Alabama is a state that’s vulnerable to tornadoes and hurricanes. It can hardly afford to come up short because of a low Census count. Census data is a factor in determining benefits such as school lunches.

“Every person counted translates into $1,600 in benefits,” Bradford said. “We will be sending emails to the 35 people we spoke to earlier this year informing t em that we are gearing for a big final push. We need to count every person we can.”

Counting everyone includes those of Latino heritage. Census forms in Spanish are available and have been used by enumerators in counting some people living in Chambers County who do not speak English as a first language.

The goal is to count every person who was living in Chambers County on April 1, U.S. citizen or not. Not including Spanish-speaking people means getting less money from the federal government.

“What happened in Beauregard several years ago shows how important it is to get disaster relief,” Bradford said.

Some new signs promoting Census response can be seen on www.census.alabama.gov. Bradford said he likes the one about saluting veterans. It reads: “If they gave their lives, you can give six minutes,” Bradford said. “It takes only six minutes to fill it out.”

“We will be putting up new signs soon,” Bradford said. “In the final two weeks, we will be running spots on local radio and have ads in the local paper. We want everyone who has not been counted for some reason to know how important it is for the community. If an enumerator comes by your house, cooperate with them. They are trained to stay six feet away from you and won’t enter your home. We want as much participation we can get. We’d like to go past that 60 percent goal and get close to the statewide goal of 70 percent.”

Residents should know that Census data is confidential. Anyone with questions about completing a Census questionnaire can call 1-880-330-2020 for information.