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Groups want to boost census participation

County leaders and the U.S. Census Bureau met Tuesday to discuss ways to boost participation in the 2010 Census.

The Complete County Committee, made up of local leaders and other active citizens, wants to see at least 5 percent more people fill out and return census forms next year than in 2000.

In the last census, Chilton County lagged behind the rest of Alabama and the nation in participation.

Next March, census forms will be delivered to every residence in the U.S. The forms should be mailed back in the postage-paid envelope.

“We really want to hone in to the public the importance of filling that form out,” said Carletta Singleton, with the U.S. Census Bureau. “If they mail that form back, they never have to see someone at their door.”

In 2000, 56 percent of county resident mailed back their census cards. That’s compared to 61 percent of Alabamians and 67 percent nationwide.

Singleton estimates census workers will visit 7,300 households in Chilton County that don’t return the questionnaires.

Singleton said an accurate count is vital in securing federal dollars, drawing new legislative districts and meeting other challenges.

“This is a number that you have to live with for 10 years,” she said.