By Valerie Baldowski
Local representatives of the U.S. Census Bureau are urging residents who have not received a census questionnaire to get one from a library, senior center or city hall, and complete it.
While Thursday was the day by which residents were asked to return census forms, those who did not receive the mailed forms are encouraged to get the forms from a census assistance center and mail them in, according to Susan Burnore, office manager for the Stockbridge census office.
"April 1 is the day we aim for a 'snapshot' of our population. So for example, residents should report how many people live in their house as of April 1, even if they complete the form on another day.
"We're not interested in enforcement," she said. "We're interested in encouraging people to participate."
The U.S. Census Bureau has informed the Henry County Complete Count Committee that all census forms have been mailed, according to Julie Hoover-Ernst, Henry County's communications director and chairperson of the Media Subcommittee of the Henry County Complete Count Committee. However, she said Thursday, many residents contend they have not received the forms.
"Henry County is continuing to receive troubling reports that some households -- and in some cases entire neighborhoods scattered throughout Henry -- have not yet received their 2010 census form," Hoover-Ernst said. "Because a complete count is critically important to the future of this community, citizens who have not received a form, or have a post office box for a mailing address, are urged to stop by one of the Census Questionnaire Assistance Centers to obtain a form, complete it, and mail it in."
Residents who use a post office box to receive mail will not receive a census form through the mail, because post office boxes are not associated with a geographic location, Hoover-Ernst said.
In Henry County, Questionnaire Assistance Centers are located at the local libraries, the city halls in each of the county's four municipalities, and at the senior centers, Hoover-Ernst added.
Henry County's participation rate in the 2010 census has recently become stronger, Hoover-Ernst said.
"As of Wednesday, Henry County has achieved a 49 percent response rate, which trails the national rate by just one percent," she said.
On a city level, Hoover-Ernst said Locust Grove residents have shown the strongest participation in the census count in Henry. Locust Grove had a 49 percent response rate. Stockbridge's response rate was 46 percent, and Hampton and McDonough each had response rates of 45 percent, she added.