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Fiscal court discusses importance of 2020 Census

With the 2020 Census taking place later in the year, Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley stressed the importance of each resident in the county filling out their forms and mailing them back when the time comes. Mosley addressed members of the Harlan County Fiscal Court on Tuesday, along with those in attendance, saying he felt the people residing in the county had been “undercounted” the last time a census was taken.

“They’re already in the process of recruiting workers, with some staff already in place to provide outreach about what the census is and how important it is. Everything that is handed down from federal government is based on population and the only way the population is determined is by a census every 10 years,” Mosley said. “It’s very important that residents understand the importance of filling out their forms later this year. The only way to make sure someone isn’t knocking on your door about the census is to make sure you fill out the form and mail it back in.”

Mosley asked the magistrates to begin spreading the word about the upcoming census and its importance to the communities throughout the region.

“People looking for work, this is a great opportunity for people to get a good paying job for the remainder of the year,” he said, mentioning the job postings released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Anyone age 18 and older, such as high school students or recent high school graduates, college students, veterans, retirees, military spouses, seasonal workers and people who are bilingual are highly encouraged to apply. People who already have jobs and want to earn extra income evenings and weekends are also encouraged to apply.

The selection process begins this month, with paid training occurring in March and April. After paid training, most positions work between May and early July. For those who may have already applied prior to the new year, you are encouraged to go online to check the status of your application.

To apply, go online to www.2020census.gov/jobs. You must have an active email address to complete the online application.

Mosley said he would also like to establish a “complete count committee” to see the 2020 Census through, making sure everyone in Harlan County is accounted for and to hand out promotional material. Those wishing to be on the committee are asked to call the judge-executive’s office at 606-573-2600.

“I would like to have a couple people from each district to recommend people who are pastors or who are involved in schools and coaches. People that are community staples and who people listen to,” he said. “It’s very important. We felt like last time the census was done, a lot of people were left out, and it’s not even the people’s fault.”

Mosley said with how the census is organized, the forms are only allowed to be mailed to physical addresses, not post office boxes.

“The postal service won’t put your census form in your post office box because the U.S. Census Bureau says it has to go to your residence. Well, it can’t go to your residence if you don’t get your mail there,” Mosley said. “So I thought, most people in urban areas get their mail at their house or apartment whereas most people in rural areas use a post office box. I have a firm belief that their process in mailing those out really hurt rural areas on getting an accurate count.”

Tri-City News contributor John Scott said he remembered a time 40 years ago when he served as crew chief for the U.S. Census Bureau and was paid 10 cents for every house he stopped at to have people fill out their forms.

“You know how the houses are here, you might be a mile between houses. So I had a terrible time getting people to work for a few cents a mile and 10 cents a house,” Scott said. “So that led to a lot of under-representation 40 years ago. At that time, I was in charge of half of Harlan County and all of Bell County, so it’s changed around a lot.”

Scott said he hopes the $14 an hour offered by the U.S. Census Bureau will motivate others to make sure everyone is accounted for.

“Right now, they’re just trying to get the word out that this is the year for a census,” Mosley said. “It’s very important. We’ve covered a lot of things at this court meeting today, but of all the things we’ve covered, the most important is probably this 2020 Census. It’s going to happen this year, so we need our people to take it seriously and fill out their forms.”

Mosley said forms will also be available at locations across the county, such as the public libraries in Harlan, Evarts and Cumberland.

“Obviously, that’s a little more work for people having to do that, but like we were saying, last time we had people that hadn’t even received their form and they didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I think at that point we made it an imperative effort to get to people and let them know what to do if they didn’t get a form. But with the way it’s set up, it really makes it difficult for people who don’t get their mail at home to participate in the census.”

For more information about the 2020 Census, visit the U.S. Census Bureau website at www.2020census.gov or call the judge-executive’s office at 606-573-2600.