Census committee wants wide involvement

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Craig is growing, and the U.S. Census Bureau has the numbers to prove it.

From 2006 to 2008, Craig added 200 people to its population, bringing the total population to 9,241, according to recently released federal statistics.

The Census Bureau does population updates each year to keep track of trends leading up to official census counts, which happen every 10 years.

"It probably reflects the fact that we have some growing industry in the energy industry," City Manager Jim Ferree said about the city's growth. "I know that Twentymile mine has been hiring over the last few months. Fortunately, we're not overly reliant on the tourism industry. We have very stable employers here."

He said that through the recession, sales tax revenue has kept very stable, which is an indicator of economic health and something most other Colorado towns can't claim.

"Employment is what brings people to Craig," he said. "We recently approved two bond issues, so we'll have a new hospital and updated schools. Those kinds of things do help, but it's really employment opportunities that bring people here."

Feree said Craig has been growing at a steady rate, which he expects to continue in the next census.

He said the city has been planning for this growth in several ways, including a new water treatment system that will take care of water needs for a growing population.

"If the population keeps growing by 2.5 percent a year like it has been, we will be set with water for 20 years," Ferree said. "The important thing is, it's a stable growth. We haven't seen a lot of boom bust, and that's easier for us to accommodate."

Census 2010

In March 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau will send out forms to each household.

Jennifer Riley, chief appraiser at the Moffat County Assessor's Office, is a member of the Craig-Moffat Complete Count Committee, a group formed to spread the word about the upcoming census.

Riley said that many people aren't aware of the importance of counting every last resident, no matter their race, religion or citizenship status.

"They actually take the numbers from the census to re-district the government," she said. "As different populations grow, they might need a larger percentage of representation at the state level."

On a local level, if a certain district is growing, it is important to have the right amount of representation, Riley said.

The reapportionment of districts also affects federal funding and distribution of social services.

"There's federal money that will come back to the state in different ways," she said "An accurate account might affect the funding you get."

The Complete Count Committee has been broken up into three factions that will focus on different parts of the community.

Riley's group will focus on the rural communities that have limited access to media and information about the census.

Other groups will target 18- to 30-year-olds and the Hispanic population.

Riley said that residents who might be in the country illegally often are worried about being deported or about their information being available to the government.

The U.S. Census Bureau Web site states all census records are confidential and that even the president doesn't have access to it

Everyone needs to be counted, regardless of his or her citizenship status, and Riley said those who are counted in the census will not be deported if they live here illegally.

"We really want to get census 2010 in everyone's mind," Riley said. "When you do start getting census sheets in the mail, we want you know what they are so you don't throw it away."

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