By COL. JOE BURANOSKY (USMC RET.)
One of the most important things we can do as citizens of this region is to support our community. The 2020 Census is in process and the self-response phase has been extended until Sept. 30; our response rate has not been good. Out of 100 counties in the state, four of the five worst response rates are from counties in western North Carolina. Ranking worst at 100 out of 100 counties was Avery with a 30.1 percent response; Graham was 99 of 100 at 31.9 percent; Jackson was 98 of 100 at 33.2 percent and Swain was 97 of 100 at 33.6 percent. These figures reflect data received as of Aug. 18.
Tammy Jackson is the EBCI 2020 Census Cherokee Complete Count Committee Chairperson. She said the self-response rate of tribal members and residents of the Qualla Boundary as of Aug. 26 is 32.9 percent. This is better than the 2010 self-response rate of 12.8 percent. Jackson only has access to self-response percentages and not what the census bureau employees have counted. Participating in the census will benefit tribal members by the amount of money coming to the EBCI (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) for tribal programs. The Tribe and those living within the boundary could lose approximately $1823 per uncounted person every year for the next 10 years!
It is essential to have an accurate census count at every level of government. Census results will determine congressional representation, and provide data to inform decision making for the next decade. For example, the census results will show where communities need new schools, clinics, roads, and necessary family services. They impact support for hundreds of programs that help our communities grow and prosper – in the area of education alone this includes programs such as Head Start, Pell Grants, school lunches, rural education, adult education, and grants for preschool special education.
Everyone must do their part. Please fill out the census for your household and encourage your neighbors to do the same. It takes less than 10 minutes. Engage with local government leaders to actively support the census and help the Census Bureau to count all households over the coming months.
The Census Bureau works hard to produce high quality statistics and protect your privacy. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by supporting them. None of us has a right to complain about government services if we don’t participate. Stand up and be counted! The squeaky wheel gets the grease…