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Census forms arriving in mail

SELMA — Take a look in the mailbox and you’ll likely find the 10 questions for census in it some time this week.

The letters with the questions in them are in the mail. More than 120 million of them began arriving Monday around the country. This is the way the government counts people living in the nation once in a decade. It will be used to decide congressional seats and more than $400 billion in federal aid.

Selma Mayor George Evans has urged people in Selma to fill out the questionnaires and return them as quickly as possible either by mail or at a local collection site, the Selma-Dallas County Public Library, for example.

“This is so important,” Evans said. “I cannot stress how important this is that all people be counted. It means money. It means representation in Washington. We need for everyone to fill out the census questionnaires.”

Members of the Dallas County Commission also have stressed the importance of the census. The commission has sent letters to churches in the county, asking members and parishioners to remember to fill out the questions.

And this is Valley Grande’s first census. A decade ago, the small city was not incorporated, so, said Mayor Tom Lee, filling out that census questionnaire means Valley Grande is placed on the map.

Census Bureau director Robert Graves kicked off the national mail-in campaign Monday in Phoenix, Ariz. The Grand Canyon State could gain two U.S. House seats because immigrants have poured into Arizona during the last decade.

Graves has begged cities and states to promote the census and improve upon the numbers from 2000 when only 72 percent of the residents in the nation responded to the forms.

If everyone in the nation who receives a census form mails it back, the government would save about $1.5 billion in follow-up visits to ask the questions verbally.

For those who do not mail the forms back, from May until July, the Census Bureau will send census-takers to each home.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.