2010 census gears up in Aspen, the valley | AspenTimes.com
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2010 census gears up in Aspen, the valley

ASPEN – All of Pitkin County’s households will receive questionnaires this year as part of the 2010 U.S. census, which is now ramping up.

Residents can expect to have census surveys delivered to their doors by March. Census officials are asking that people fill out the 10-question survey and send it back by April 1. Postage will be paid for by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Questionnaires won’t be delivered to P.O. boxes; rather they will correspond to every physical address in Pitkin County, said Brian Meinhart, partnership specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2008, the bureau coordinated with local governments to create a database of residences in Pitkin County. Then people were sent out with GPS trackers to document every residence to ensure the database was complete.

The census, which occurs every 10 years, is estimated to create between 800 and 1,000 jobs on the Western Slope, and a good portion of them will be in the Roaring Fork Valley. The work, which is part-time, involves hanging surveys on door knobs and conducting follow-up visits to households.

“We are hoping to hire qualified people locally as much as possible,” Meinhart said, adding people with bilingual skills are encouraged to apply. “It will take a lot of people to get this effort done.”

While U.S. citizens are mandated by law to participate in the census, and fines can be imposed for not responding, Meinhart said rarely is that hard-line approach necessary. Instead, census workers may visit a household up to six times for follow-up to ensure people fill out the questionnaire.

“It’s something that benefits the community, and we hope people realize that,” Meinhart said.

State and federal agencies use census information to determine funding and grants for local governments and communities. Those agencies include the department of transportation; schools; hospitals; health and human services; the veterans administration; and housing and urban development.

“They all need to know where the funding is needed, and the census helps with that,” Meinhart said.

For those who don’t receive surveys, the U.S. Census Bureau will set up local questionnaire centers and “Be Counted” sites where people can fill out the form.

Meinhart said another form, dubbed the “long form, is no longer being distributed. One-out-of-six households were given that form, which asked for more detailed demographic information, in the 2000 census.

Pat Bingham, Pitkin County’s public information officer, said the county commissioners plan to discuss local efforts for the U.S. census on Jan. 19.

Coordination with the city of Aspen and the bureau’s Grand Junction office will commence in the coming weeks.

“We are planning to work with the city and whoever wants to play,” Bingham said, adding that public service announcements and spots on public access television will be part of the community relations effort. “We all have our radar on.”

csack@aspentimes.com

The U.S. Census Bureau is actively recruiting workers to help locally with the nationwide head count. It’s estimated that between 800 and 1,000 jobs will be created on the Western Slope. The work is part-time and temporary. Those who are interested should call the census job line at 1-866-861-2010 for more information or log onto http://www.census.gov.


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