Money woes may end with proper count

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 3, 1999

&uot;I just don’t see where we are going to get the money.&uot; Due to cash shortfalls, that is a phrase Concordia Parish police jurors have to frequently tell those who request more money for public works, nonprofit donations and a host of other needs.

But according to one Census Bureau specialist, police jurors would have to say it less often if more parish residents were counted during the census.

The federal government estimates that 428 Concordia Parish residents didn’t get counted in the 1990 Census. Because of that, the parish has lost more than $1 million in federal and state grants, said Kristina Hickman, a census specialist for central Louisiana.

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&uot;Many of those programs use population numbers to determine how they will distribute their money,&uot;&160;Hickman said. &uot;That’s money for schools, public health, safety, transportation … almost everything.&uot;

So the Census Bureau, along with local governments, nonprofit groups and residents, is taking steps to make sure that as many residents are counted as possible.

First, Census Bureau specialists like Hickman are meeting with police juries throughout Louisiana, urging them to set up Complete Count committees.

Those committees, composed of members appointed by police jurors and towns within the parishes, will brainstorm ways to more effectively publicize the census.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury voted Monday to establish a Complete Count Committee that will have an initial meeting in November and start working in earnest next January.

&uot;One of their jobs will be to figure out how they can best publicize the importance of filling out these questionnaires,&uot;&160;Hickman said. &uot;Hopefully, they will have reminders at the utility offices, stores, on marquees in town, at the library … everywhere.&uot;

Hickman has already started getting the word out herself by speaking to some of the parish’s civic groups, including the Lions’ Club, Rotary Clubs and the Kiwanis Club.

Census questionnaires will be mailed to households the third week of March 2000, but stacks of blank questionnaires will be put in public places to help make sure everyone has a form.

One of the committee’s jobs, then, will be to think of the best places to put the forms so that the most people will see them.

Those who have not mailed forms back to the Census Bureau by April 1 will be visited by census counters. So the Complete Count Committee will also have to figure out which places in Concordia Parish will need more census counters.

And that is something else the Census Bureau is starting to do in Concordia Parish – hiring census counters to go door to door to collect information from households that do not send in their census forms.

Starting on Tuesday, testing for prospective census counters will be held at 1 p.m. every other Tuesday in the Police Jury meeting room at the new courthouse in Vidalia. Testing will also be held at 9 a.m. every Tuesday at the Doty Road Community Center in Ferriday.

For more information, call Hickman at (318) 466-5955.