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Complete count eyed for Census with parade

Friday, March 26, 2010

A March to the Mailbox Parade is recommended by the U.S. Census Bureau, according to a brochure left at the Marshall County Courthouse Annex on Tuesday.

Gertrude "Trudy" Parham, a partnership specialist with the Bureau's office in Charlotte, N.C., was there to meet with nine local leaders who were described as the county's Complete Count Committee.

The March to the Mailbox campaign encourages people to have a parade to their neighborhood post box, according to the well-printed document. The Bureau suggests that the parades be complete with marching bands, fire trucks, drum corps, cheerleaders and the distribution of fliers.

Volunteers are encouraged to "hold up signs, wave pennants and engage noisemakers" during the parade that would be preceded by the placement of "lawn signs in yards along the parade/march route."

The Bureau's promotional document also says, parenthetically, "(gain permission and place signs in lawns up to a week before the event and leave until April 19.)"

Parades are recommended on April 10, a Saturday.

"People are already getting their Census forms in the mail," Mike Wiles, executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board, said.

Census Day is April 1 every 10 years. Because some people are late in filling out the forms, the Census Bureau sends enumerators, also known as census takers, to homes that have not returned the forms. The Complete Count Campaign is an attempt to reduce the number of homes census takers must visit. When they do, their job is to fill out the form for the residents.

The forms ask who lives at the address that received the Census form. It's little more than a questionnaire asking for a name, age, address, and type of residency of the people living at that residence.

Seven places have been selected to be an office, building or location where residents may go for answers on how to interpret the census forms. Those planned in Marshall County are to be at the Lewisburg Housing Authority Office, the Veterans Office in the Hardison Office Annex, Marshall County Schools' Central Office, the Chapel Hill Fire Hall, and locations in Petersburg (probably Town Hall), Cornersville, and one for Hispanics who can't speak English.

The U.S. Constitution requires a population count every 10 years. The original, and still the most basic, reason is to help state, federal and local governments draw political jurisdictional lines that would divide the population into areas of equal representation.

State lawmakers will use the data to draw new Congressional District lines that would be used in the 2012 election. County commissioners will be asked to have county districts reapportioned to make sure each commissioner represents about the same number of people as the next commissioner. Because Lewisburg has city councilmen elected from Wards, then those Wards' lines should be examined to be sure each councilman has the same number of people in each ward.

Members of the Complete Count Committee for Marshall County include Joe Boyd Liggett, Carl Cooper, Amos Davis, Francis Murdock, Wallace Haley, Ronald Robinson, Leland Carden, Hector Cruz and Mike Wiles.