Make your mark; help with census

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Residents who feel that they are not valuable participants in the workings of local government can be just that this year.

The federal government will conduct the 2010 Decennial Census this year in an effort to make sure that every person in this country is counted in the United States' population.

Why does it matter whether you and I participate in the census?

Because the data gained from the census will determine the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds for transportation, education, health care, housing, public safety and other social services. The data is also used in setting U.S. Congress representation in each district.

In simple terms, the more residents we have, the more federal dollars we get.

That’s why Vandalia Mayor Rick Gottman is working to see that the population at Vandalia Correctional Center is increased upward toward the former figure of 1,500 inmates. That’s also why he is forming a coalition made up of representatives from county government, area municipalities and school districts.

It’s similar to when political parties work to get out the vote; these officials will be working to ensure that local residents provide census information.

The Decennial Census also is providing jobs. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Chicago Regional Center recently announced that about 100,000 census workers will be recruited throughout the state. The anticipated census employment numbers for Springfield, for example, is 4,800.

That means some temporary jobs will be available in an area that has seen more than its share of lost jobs within the past couple of years.

Those who are interested in one of those census jobs can get more information, including application forms and practice tests, at the U.S. Census Web site, www.2010censusjobs.gov.

This is one of those examples of where you can really make a difference in local government.