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BREAKING NEWS

You count

By Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer | Sep 27, 2020

Amy H. Peterson

Just a few days remain to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census and Iowans who haven’t yet filled out the form are urged to do so.

According to State Data Center coordinator Gary Krob, the U.S. Census Bureau will be collecting data only through Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Krob said, “Iowa has just over a 70% response rate. We saw about one in four households that haven’t responded. We need to get those responses in as quickly as we can.”

The bureau is now going door-to-door to all of the non-responders trying to get the responses. It is also still possible to respond online at 2020Census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020. If you have the postcard or a paper form, you can still go online with the specific code from the postcard or send in the paper form.

For a rural area like Emmet County, those numbers can have a large impact. Minnesota was the top state for self-responses returned at 74.8%. Washington, Wisconsin and Nebraska are at second, third and fourth, all in the 99% range for responses enumerated as of Saturday, Sept. 26. Iowa comes in at fifth with 97.6% in which 26.5% were collected in nonresponse follow-up and 71.1% in self-response. This may not be the great news it appears to be for our local area. Emmet County is falling below that rate in self-response at 65.1%. And workers may find it difficult to get to the very rural areas of our county. This means there are numerous people in Emmet County who could still turn in their responses and not wait for a follow up that may not come even with the intense efforts in the past few weeks nad continuing the next couple of days for Get Out The Census.

Emmet is, as of Sept. 26, ranked 84th out of 99 counties for self-response rates. We have lots of room to improve and there is hope of doing it in the next 48 hours.

An incomplete count is one way we may be listed as shrinking in population over the years when perhaps we are not in as much of a downturn as the numbers would indicate. It certainly affects funding for our schools, roads, bridges, parks, for farm subsidies and state funding for our cities and towns, Medicare and Medicaid payments to our hospitals and health care providers, college aid, and every other thing. It affects our taxes but most of all whether our tax money returns to us. It could determine whether Iowa will stay with four members in the House of Representatives, shrink to three, or rise again to five.

There’s no question about citizenship on the form this year. Hence everyone residing in Emmet County at this time should be counted. The number of people residing in the county, not whether they have completed paperwork to be citizens, is and has always been the measure of the U.S. Census. If you’re here to live, please fill out the census. Remember it is required by federal law.

Estherville is currently behind Milford, Spirit Lake, Algona, Emmetsburg, May City, Graettinger, Terril, Swea City, tied for 609th out of over 900 towns and cities in Iowa (with many rankings tied). Armstrong is ahead of Estherville and at the top of the game in this county. Gruver is at 613th. Ringsted stands at 750th with 58.8% of their forms enumerated. Dolliver has fewer than half, 48.8% of their forms in and is ranked 877th. Dickinson County is ranked last in the state due to Okoboji, West Okoboji, Wahpeton, Orleans and Arnolds Park ranking in the bottom 10 cities for response rates. With the number of seasonal homes there, they are in a unique situation. It may be easy to say Gruver and Dolliver and those living in the unincorporated areas don’t matter to our bottom line. However, we wouldn’t want our county to throw away $275,450 in federal funding if those in Dolliver, Gruver and the unincorporated county areas were not counted.

If you are tired of hearing Emmet County is ailing and shrinking and will disappear and there’s nothing we can do about it, fill out the census. If you are concerned for the community and want to do something about it, fill out the census. If you love this community, think some of its best days are ahead and want to prove it, fill out the census. If you are a person who likes to follow the law, fill out the census. If you don’t care, but don’t want to have someone else miss out on a benefit of being American, fill out the census. If you haven’t done it yet, now is the time. Be counted.