The Highland County Complete County Committee is hosting events at libraries in the county on Saturday, April 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Prizes will be awarded.
The libraries are located in Greenfield, Hillsboro, Leesburg, Lynchburg, and the Rocky Fork Lake area.
For this year’s census, there are three ways to participate: online, by phone or by mail.
Those who would like to complete their census questionnaire via phone must initiate the phone call. Census workers will not call residents.
Residents should expect to receive an invitation to respond to the census between March 12 and March 20. The invitation will include a unique URL and code, which residents will need to complete their census forms online or by phone.
The committee encourages community members who don’t have home access to the Internet to use the libraries’ computers to complete their census forms online during the events. Census workers will be on hand to assist community members if needed.
Those who complete their census forms during the events and those who provide confirmation that they completed their forms before the event will be entered to win prizes including a 50-inch smart TV, a $100 Visa gift card, an Oster blender, and others.
To confirm you participated in the census before the April 4 events, screenshot the confirmation page that appears after the census form has been successfully submitted. The screenshot can be digital — on a phone, tablet or laptop — or printed.
Winners will be drawn on Monday, April 6.
According to Census Partnership Specialist Samuel Knight, the census form only asks for a name, address, race and ethnicity, and sex or gender for each member of a household as well as a total number of people living in the household.
Knight stated that personal information gathered for the census is confidential and won’t be shared with other government agencies or private entities, including benefits agencies and landlords. Census data is also protected for 72 years, meaning information from the 2020 census won’t be released until 2092.
The specific personal information collected during the census is broken down into statistics that will help inform major decisions.
“Some people might think to themselves, ‘How does this have to do with me?’ or ‘What is my stake in this?’” Knight said. “Everything we do at some point in the day traces back to having good data and statistics to be able to make decisions about where money is spent and representation is allotted.”
Data gathered during the 2020 census, Knight said, will affect how the government decides to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds each year for the next decade. According to Knight, if any community members are missed during the census count, the data won’t accurately represent the area, which could cause Ohio and Highland County governments and organizations to be denied funding.
“If we miss people in the census, it skews our per capita income up. That same amount of income is getting divided among less people,” Knight said at a previous Highland County census meeting. “I was just speaking with the superintendent of Western Local Schools down in Latham. They’re the eighth or tenth most impoverished school district in Ohio, and he indicated that they’ve tried to apply for certain programs and grants, and they say, ‘Nope, your income doesn’t meet the correct standards.’ This has been indicated in a lot of villages.”
In a previous interview, Highland County census co-coordinator Virginia Purdy said participation in the census is vitally important to the county, adding that “with the stroke of a pen,” Greenfield went from a city to a village as a result of data from the 2010 census.
“This is about the funding for our roads, our medical programs and so much more,” Purdy said. “It affects our lives here, and it even affects how many people we get to represent us in government.”
Knight said, “Our 435 House representatives get divided up based on the census counts. If we miss people in any area in Ohio, we can become underrepresented as a state for the next 10 years.”
Additional area programs that can be affected by census data include special education, water and waste disposal systems, Medicare Part B, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, census data can also bring new businesses to the area.
Community leaders and members of the public who would like to learn more about encouraging their friends and neighbors to participate in the census are welcomed to come to the next Highland County Complete Count Census meeting, which will be held at the Hi-Tech Center on Tuesday, March 31 at 6 p.m. The Hi-Tech Center is located at 1575 N. High St. in Hillsboro.
Expected schedule for 2020 census
Between March 12 and March 20, Highland County residents will receive an invitation to respond online and via phone. The invitation will include a unique URL and code.
Between March 16 and March 24, residents will receive a reminder letter.
Between March 26 and April 3, residents will receive a reminder postcard.
Between April 8 and April 16, residents will receive a reminder letter and paper census questionnaire, which they can fill out and mail in.
Between April 20 and April 27, those who haven’t completed the questionnaire will receive a final reminder postcard before a census worker follows up in person.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.