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Officials tout Census’ value

Fill it out. Be counted.

Half of Alabama’s residents have filled out and mailed back their 2010 Census forms. Now it is time for the other half to be counted.

City officials gathered Thursday at City Hall Thursday to promote and encourage all Selma and Dallas County residents to turn in Census forms as a part of National Census Day.

“It’s very critical and important that we get the numbers turned in, in terms of revenue for our city and county,” said Mayor George Evans.

So far, 48 percent of Selma residents have sent forms back, while 46 percent of Dallas County residents have done so. Valley Grande has counted 54 percent of the population. Nationally, 52 percent of the forms have been returned.

“I filled mine out last week and sent it on back, and I hope everybody else has done the same,” Evans said.

According to Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard, less than two weeks ago, 27 percent of Dallas County had mailed forms back.

“There have been tremendous strides made in the last few weeks as far as getting the numbers up where they’re supposed to be,” Ballard said. “We don’t want to lose the first dollar that we are supposed to get back from the federal government.”

Population information gathered from the forms determines government representation and provides funding for hospitals, schools, senior centers, emergency services and construction, among other services.

“The Census is very important to the court system,” said District Attorney Michael Jackson said. “We did not pick up another judgeship because our numbers were so low, even though the volume that we have is the fifth largest in the state.”

Officials encourage every person to fill out the form, send it back, and then encourage others to do the same.

“We don’t need to miss out on a single person,” said District Judge Bob Armstrong. “It will help our children, and our children are our future.”

In 2000, 66 percent of Alabama residents sent forms back. Selma counted 65 percent of its residents and Dallas County recorded 56 percent of its residents. Valley Grande did not participate in the 2000 Census.