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Residents opt for rapid return


Area participation rates in 2010 Census surpass state and federal figures



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April 14, 2010
TRI-CITY AREA — "It's in our hands," says 2010 U.S. Census promotional material, but after all the numbers are tallied in the Tri-City area will we find there's less to grasp—fewer people and federal dollars?

It will be several months until the final figures are in, but it's generally agreed that population counts in Lapeer and St. Clair counties will likely fall. As people lose their jobs and homes or both, they migrate elsewhere.

Population estimates compiled by the state have already hinted at what the federal census might reveal.

In 2000, the last year the census was taken, Lapeer County's population was 87,904. It peaked in 2006 at 92,291 and as of July 2009, was estimated at 89,974.

In St. Clair County, the 2000 Census tallied 164,235 residents. That number also peaked in 2006 at 170,300 and, as of July 2009, stood at an estimated 167, 562.

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The Imlay City and Capac libraries and Imlay’s Hispanic Service Center have served as census assistance centers. photo by Maria Brown.

At present, local officials are focusing on getting Michigan residents to return their census forms by this Friday, April 16.

All local municipality participation rates (see 'By the numbers' box) surpass state (71 percent) and federal (65 percent) rates.

Both Lapeer and St. Clair counties appear they could surpass their 2000 participation rates of 81 percent.

Starting in May, around 700,000 census takers across the country will be knocking on doors to obtain information from households who didn't return their questionnaires.

For those who need help filing out the form or need a new form can visit a local assistance center—the Ruth Hughes Memorial District Library (211 N. Almont Ave., Imlay City), the Hispanic Service Center (150 S. Almont Ave., Imlay City) and the Capac Library (111 N. Main St., Capac).

Kristen Valyi-Hax, director of the Ruth Hughes library, said their responsibility is to provide a public place for a census representative to answers resident's questions. A representative will be at the Imlay Library tomorrow, April 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; at the Hispanic Service Center April 14 and 19 from 1-4:30 p.m. and at the Capac Library April 16 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Valyi-Hax said the library sees the census as a valuable tool and hopes residents take the time to fill out their forms.

"I've done genealogical research and value the census as a resource for information," Valyi-Hax said.

"It's a thrill to see your grandmother's name in census records from over 70 years ago."

Census figures are used to draw legislative districts, plan for public housing and transportation needs, distribute federal funding, attract businesses to the area and much more.

Starting this week, census responses can be given over the phone by calling 1-866-872-6868 for English; 1-866-928-2010 for Spanish and 1-866-783-2010) for TDD (Telephone Display Device for the hearing impaired).

To learn more, visit 2010.census.gov.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.
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