City, county officials host “Census Fiesta”

Russellville city officials will block off part of the downtown area Saturday to throw a block party with the intent to encourage those who have yet to fill out a 2010 census form.

The event will be held at the First Baptist Church parking lot in downtown Russellville Saturday, April 17 from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Franklin County Probate Judge Barry Moore believes this event will help numbers grow and make this census more accurate in this area.

“Mayor Troy Oliver and county engineer David Palmer were the ones who came up with the idea of the census fiesta downtown,” he said. “The main purpose of the event is to educate the ones who are struggling to understand what the census is about and for those who are having a hard time filling out the form. There will be several bilingual individuals on-hand to help those having troubles with the form.”

Moore, who is spearheading the 2010 Census for the county, said it should be a fun and helpful event that hopefully will increase the accuracy of population numbers here in the county.

The “Fiesta” idea was put in place to encourage the Hispanic community to come out and enjoy several festivities, while helping officials get a more accurate count of all who live in the county. The event will consist of food and various church worship bands.

Russellville Mayor Troy Oliver said, if time allows, there might even be spots in the program for politicians to come out and give a brief speech to the community.

“No one is at risk if they are not counted for the census, but we really, truly urge those who haven’t, to fill out a census form and turn it in,” he said. “These numbers could potentially give us the ammunition we need to go back to the federal government and show them we need more funding for city improvements.”

Oliver said the event is not just for the Hispanic community but for all residents in the community who are looking for “a better quality of life.”

“We have encouraged the public in every way we know how and are still pushing for better numbers,” he said.

“There may be five people show up, then there may be 500 to show, the number is uncertain at this point. No deadline is set as of yet, but I’m sure there is one quickly approaching and the importance of these number are so great that we can’t afford to set back and do nothing about it.”

Oliver said he has spoken to many church groups, who are helping to spread the word, members of the Hispanic, Vietnamese and Asian communities located in the city limits.

“The last time I checked, 52 percent of the forms that were mailed out to residents were returned,” Oliver said. “We have got to do better than that if we want to seek better funding for our schools and city projects.”

Oliver said for those who did not receive a 2010 Census form through the mail, there are forms located at Russellville City Hall, Franklin County Courthouse, Franklin County Courthouse Annex and of course at the event planned for Saturday.

If anyone needs help filling out a 2010 Census form, call the toll-free help lines; for English call 1-866-872-6868, for Spanish call 1-866-928-2010.