Census centers set up

COVINGTON -- Residents who misplace or do not receive a 2010 Census form or have trouble filling out the questionnaire can visit several local sites for assistance.

The U.S. Census Bureau has opened three questionnaire assistance centers in Newton County, where Census staffers are on hand to assist the public in filling out the forms.

The sites are the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce at 2101 Clark St. S.W. in Covington, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; Covington City Hall, located at 2194 Emory St. N.W. in Covington, where help is available from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday; and the Newton County Library, located at 7116 Floyd St. in Covington, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Help is available in English and Spanish at City Hall and the library.

Census forms can also be obtained at all those sites, at the Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher St. N.W. in Covington, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Oxford Community Center, at 810 Whatcoat St. in Oxford, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Lynn Parham, Census 2010 coordinator for Newton County, said the most common questions she gets pertain to incomplete or incorrect addresses on the forms.

"People ask, 'Do I fill it out anyway?' The answer is yes," she said.

The form will have a place to list the correct address, Parham said.

On April 10, local volunteers will be making a final push to get residents to send in Census questionnaires by participating in March to the Mailbox, an event that targets Census tracts that have historically low returns. Volunteers will be going door to door to encourage residents in those areas to complete and return their forms.

This year, the Census Bureau has adopted the slogan "10 Questions, 10 Minutes" to promote its new abbreviated form.

Information that will be asked includes whether a housing unit is rented or owned; the address of the residence; and names, genders, ages and races of those living in the household.

The individual who owns or rents the housing unit should complete the questionnaire on behalf of every one living there, relatives and non-relatives. Census takers will visit households that did not return a questionnaire by mail May through July.

The U.S. Constitution requires a national census once every 10 years to count the population. Census data determines boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts. Also, each year the federal government allocates more than $400 billion to states and local governments based in part on census data.

For more information on the census, visit www.2010.census.gov or stop by the Covington-Newton County Welcome Center at 2101 Clark St. in Covington.