Census to provide many answers

Bill Hancher, head of the local complete count committee for the upcoming census, displays one of the posters the committee is posting to make Huntington County residents aware of the upcoming count.
Bill Hancher, head of the local complete count committee for the upcoming census, displays one of the posters the committee is posting to make Huntington County residents aware of the upcoming count. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Ten years ago, the city of Huntington was home to 17,450 people - 8,336 men and 9,114 women.

We had divided ourselves into 6,717 households, leaving 545 housing units throughout the city vacant. About half (3,284) of the households were married couples; fewer than a third (1,951) were one-person households.

Eighty-one percent of us had graduated from high school, but just 13.7 percent had a college degree. We spent an average of 18.1 minutes traveling to work.

How do we know that?

Simple - we filled out a form.

That form was the basis of the 2000 census, a once-a-decade survey of the nation that determines how much federal money communities will receive; how many seats states will have in the United States House of Representatives; and how we will view ourselves as a community for the coming 10 years.

And we're doing it again this year.

Preliminary groundwork for the 2010 census began in the fall of 2008, when temporary census workers were hired to update addresses across the nation. The actual count takes place this spring, and the United States Census Bureau is working to get the word out.

Actually, the Census Bureau has tapped a small group of local people - the "complete count committee" - to get the word out.

Bill Hancher is heading that committee, drafted by Mayor Steve Updike by way of Pat Horoho, executive director of the Huntington County United Way.

Updike had asked Horoho to take the job, but she declined; she did, however, suggest Hancher, who serves on the United Way's board of directors.

"Pat called me and said, ‘The mayor wants you to do something,'" Hancher recalls.

Hancher is working with Michael Clements, Kim Heaston, Juanita Buzzard, Jennifer Gunn and Mary Harlan to raise awareness of the census throughout Huntington County. They'll be placing brochures and posters in stores and other businesses throughout the county to get area residents thinking about the census.

Census questionnaires are scheduled to be mailed in March. Addresses for which a census form is not returned by the end of April will be visited by census takers to take a count in person.

Every household in the nation will receive the same 10-question survey, with a small percentage of households asked to provide more detailed information through the American Community Survey.

For now, Hancher and his committee are charged with making the community aware of the upcoming count - so as many people as possible are counted.