Last week, the City of Orange invited area churches, schools, and the general public to a seminar on the upcoming 2010 census. Community Christian School participated by sending Guidance Counselor Rusty Dollar, Student Council president Sarah Moseley, vice-president Angela Royer, 11th grade representative Ethan Berwick, and 11th grade government student Ryan Whitten. They found this gathering extremely interesting and profitable.

According to Billy Pruett of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce for the 2010 Census, schools and churches have a powerful voice in the community. These two groups are great positive ambassadors for the upcoming census. Their job is to get the word out over and over again. 

 “No government can function without knowing how many people they have to care for.” Mr. Pruett reminded the crowd of a notable census moment: Joseph and Mary had to return to his hometown for a Roman census. As a result, Jesus was born in Nazareth, thus fulfilling scripture. 

 Census data affect grants for certain areas. The goal is that “everyone be counted” because every person counted affects the dollars that local and state governments receive. Every person counted is worth about $2,500 in federal tax dollars to your local government. This affects 400 billion dollars worth of federal monies given to local government. 

The census also affects the 435 representatives elected for Congress. Congressional boundaries will be affected because of the upcoming census. It is projected that Louisiana and Mississippi will both loose a seat in Congress. Texas is projected to gain 3 new seats. Texas is growing at about a 1,000 citizens a day.

 The upcoming census will take place in March of 2010.

Questionnaires, one page consisting of 10 questions, will be mailed in March. The mail return response rate is about 30 percent. Doors are also knocked on to complete the response rate. The total Texas census response rate for 2000 was 64 percent. 

 Why don’t some people want to complete the Census questionnaire? Some are homeless; some are here in the U.S. illegally; some are afraid of the police; some do not trust the government. 

 By law, the Census cannot share gathered information with any law enforcement agency. Information obtained through the census is protected by law and will remain private. Statistical information is all that is shared with local organizations.

 Be aware of scams. Scams are done electronically and by door to door. Individuals at the door will ask for your social security, banking, and credit card information. The questions on the legitimate census will not ask for your social security number or other financial information.