Open house kicks off local census effort

Article Published: Dec. 10, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Open house kicks off local census effort

U.S. Census Bureau assistant regional manager Michael Hall helps open the census office in Boone last week.

Photo by Scott Nicholson

The U.S. Census office in Boone is now officially open, counting on good returns for the 2010 census.

The office hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, with regional U.S. Census officials joining local leaders both to celebrate the temporary jobs that will be created and encourage people to mail in their census forms when they are sent out next spring.

Ceylon Barclay, director of the local office, said 23 people had already been hired and he expected nine more to be added to the staff soon, part of a total of 1,100 temporary workers who will eventually be called upon to deliver an accurate head count in the region.

Barclay talked about his work in various countries, including Sri Lanka, Grenada, China and Russia, including working with former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev, painting a picture of corrupt governments and ineffective leadership.

"There was no representative democracy in all these countries," Barclay said. "Sometimes we forget how lucky we are."

Barclay said an accurate census count was fundamental to the republic, with the first U.S. Census conducted in 1790 when there were 3.8 million Americans. Now there are 308 million people, and Barclay said the count would determine the distribution of Congressional seats and federal spending on roads, hospitals, services and other public needs.

"It's in our hands," Barclay said, citing the theme of the 2010 census.

Michael Hall, assistant regional manager for the U.S. Census Bureau office in Charlotte, said it was the country's 23rd census and the process was always evolving to embrace new technologies and strategies.

"It's always been a dynamic undertaking," he said, encouraging partnerships and grassroots support to lead more people to mail in their census forms, thus saving field visits and taxpayer costs.

He said the 10 questions on the form could usually be answered in 10 minutes, but only about 60 percent of the population would mail in their forms. He said the local partnerships would help people build trust in the process and "help us paint this portrait of America."

Hall also pointed out that confidential census information was protected by law for 72 years. Those violating confidentiality face a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Hall also said $4 trillion in federal spending would be determined by the census over the the next 10 years. "Will your community get your share of the money?" he asked. "We need your help."

Boone mayor Loretta Clawson signed a resolution supporting the census, hailing the employment opportunities that would create local jobs with competitive pay and flexible hours. "I encourage everyone to be involved in the census," she said. "If they have to visit, your house might not be cleaned up and the kids might be crying."

To learn about census jobs, call the Local Census Office at (828) 832-5906 to schedule a written test or visit

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