Importance of Census stressed

Published 10:00 am Thursday, February 20, 2020

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BERMUDA RUN – Davie County is making a big push to “Be Counted” for the 2020 U.S. Census, and the town council here heard the importance of getting residents to participate in the process in last week’s meeting.

Do you want to know why it matters so much to Davie and every county in this state and across the country? Besides the obvious desire to get an accurate count, Andrew Meadwell, Davie County’s director of development and facilities services, provided some numbers regarding losing federal funds for local programs and projects based on those people who are missed.

“For every person we miss in the Census, Davie County will miss out on approximately 1,800 to 2,000 dollars – now this is based on 2015,” Meadwell said. “Every year for next 10 years, if 100 people get missed in this count, we’re talking over $2 million that would have gone to Davie County will stay with the federal government or go to somebody else.”

Meadwell said that Davie had an 80 percent response rate for the 2010 census, which he added was among the best for this region.

Mayor Rick Cross said, “I tend to look at it the other way and say there were 20 percent who didn’t respond,” meaning in a county such as Davie that has more than 40,000 residents, that’s more than 8,000 people.

“That’s millions of dollars that the county misses out on,” said councilman Mike Ernst. “There’s an incentive to get people to do it.”

Curtis Capps, one of the newest members of the council, said, “I’m not sure everybody understands how important it is as far as federal funds. I would say this would be a big help in letting everyone know. This will help bring business to Davie County, help with the roads and money for the schools.”

Ken Peacock, who was appointed to the council in the January agenda meeting and was up front in town hall for his first official meeting, said, “I never knew there would be that many people that would not participate in the Census.”

Meadwell, who provided an overview of Davie’s efforts to strengthen U.S. Census participation, said that besides allocation of dollars from the federal government to states, data collected is used in ways to forecast future needs for areas such as transportation, housing, education, health care, social services and emergency response.

“One of the biggest things is the representation in Congress,” Meadwell said. “North Carolina is going to become the ninth most populous state. I’m thinking we’ll get at least one more representative, possibly two.”

Davie had a population of 34,835 in the 2000 Census and 41,240 in the 2010 Census while Bermuda Run had a population of 1,431 in the 2000 Census and 1,725 in the 2015 Census (the 2015 estimate was 2,532).

Meadwell said that a card will be sent by mail in March with a survey that can be completed through the mail – and for the first time by phone or online.

“We’re thinking that will help us have a higher percentage this time,” Meadwell said. “We thinking 85 to 86 percent.”

In other highlights from last Tuesday night’s meeting, the council:

• Heard from Cross that the council accomplished a lot in its January planning session, inviting in some of the top government officials from across the county. “One of the things that came out of that is our Comprehensive Plan is working, and we will certainly stay the course,” he said. “And we will continue our efforts toward engagement across our town.” Cross said that the town will continue to work with DOT on traffic issues along U.S. 158 and N.C. 801. “That’s the thing we continue hearing from folks is the traffic,” he said. “The real focus on 2020 will look at our connectivity plan with the Blue Heron Trail, pedestrian bridge and the tunnel under !-40.”

• Heard from Ernst on the East Davie sewer project, praising the work crew “for the way they are moving those lines up 158 at warp speed and the cleanup they’re doing and minimizing traffic issues. They have done a yeoman’s job.”

• Heard from Town Manager Lee Rollins that the town fared well overall with the recent heavy rains but that the sports park had to move a tournament to Bryan Park in Greensboro because of the conditions.