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County hosts event to encourage census participation

The 2020 census response period is nearing an end, and members of the Franklin County Complete Census Count Committee are making final efforts to increase census participation by hosting a free event Sept. 12.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at First Franklin Financial in downtown Russellville and will feature freebies and a snow cone truck.

“We saw that other areas had done something similar to this, so we wanted to give it and try and see if this could help increase participation in some of these lower count areas,” said committee member Katernia Cole-Coffey.

Cole-Coffey said workers will be there to help those in attendance fill out their census.

“We encourage everyone to come out, especially if you haven’t filled out your census yet,” Cole-Coffey said.

The data from this year’s census will be used to determine funding for federal programs for the next 10 years. “If households do not fill out their census form, they will send less federal dollars to Franklin County,” Cole-Coffey said. “And when there are less federal dollars, there are less programs.”

Cole-Coffey said programs affected include everything from highway projects and healthcare to free lunches for students and education.

“The thing is, this money for federal programs impacts everyone in some way,” Cole-Coffey said. “Either you will be directly affected by it or you know someone who will be directly affected by it.”

Dick Rowland, senior coordinator for the Franklin County committee, said he believes most people do not understand the impact something as simple as filling out a short form can have on the community.

“Every person counted is worth about $1,600 per year for the next 10 years in support of schools, roads, medical services, social services, etc.,” Rowland said. “If a household of five is missed, that is $80,000 that just will not be there over the next 10 years.”

Cole-Coffey said she has also heard several people say they do not want to take the census for fear of giving the government information about themselves.

“The reality is, they already know about you,” Cole-Coffey said. “This information isn’t used for that – only to help with distributing funding.”

Rowland said he encourages everyone to be a good citizen and fill out their census and then ask their neighbors if they have done the same.

The final day to fill out the census is Sept. 30. Visit www.my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020 to complete the census or for more information.

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