Census draws 75 percent response in Mesa County

Rate in Grand Junction at 77%; door-to-door visits start Saturday

Cathy Lacy, Regional Director of the U.S. Census

Kathleen DuHamel, the Grand Junction local U.S. Census office manager

Census officials gearing up for Saturday’s start of the door-to-door count said they’re ahead by one percentage point of where they were 10 years ago.

In Grand Junction this year, the census participation rate is 77 percent, and in Mesa County, it’s 75 percent, census officials said Wednesday. In 2000, the participation rates were 76 percent in the city and 74 percent in the county, the census said.

The more complete the decennial head count, the more federal dollars the region stands to receive, Denver Regional Director Cathy L. Lacy said Wednesday during a visit to Grand Junction.

Combining all federal programs in which disbursements are linked to census results means that each person accounts for $890.27 apiece per year, Lacy said.

That’s up from last year’s amount of $826 per person per year, Lacy said.

The most labor-intensive part of the census begins Saturday, when 1,500 enumerators will fan out across the Western Slope to complete the count that began April 1.

Those enumerators will have to cover nearly 100 households each between Saturday and July 3, Lacy said. Some 145,000 households remain to be contacted during the door-to-door enumeration phase.

In many cases, those contacts will take place during the evening and on weekends, when the census anticipates residents are more likely to be home.

“We’re asking for people to be patient. The census is far from over,” said Kathleen DuHamel, manager of Grand Junction’s census office.

Enumerators, who are being trained at 89 sites scattered around the Western Slope, were hired from the region and are familiar with local conditions, Lacy said.

“These are folks you’ll see at church, at school, at the grocery store” when they’re not on the job completing the count, Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis said.

In all, 2,600 people, including the 1,500 enumerators, were hired to complete the census on the Western Slope, Lacy said. The additional employees include supervisors, office staff and other people who help coordinate the count.

Census workers in Grand Junction have been working around the clock to prepare for the final drive to complete the count, Lacy said.

In the Grand Junction office at 573 W. Crete Circle, problems with the ventilation system have been fixed, and there have been no recent reports of problems with the staff, DuHamel said.

Last month, a sulfur-like odor from a marijuana-growing operation in the same building carried into the census office, resulting in reports that some employees were overwhelmed.

Those reports, Lacy said, were “overrated.”

The staff at the office includes professionals and people who have worked on previous censuses, DuHamel said.

People with questions can contact the Grand Junction office at 970-361-3690.


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