Census workers have success getting forms to rural homes

Two census workers who stomped through Colorado’s March snows to deliver census forms in some of its least hospitable places said Colorado poses more problems for the counters than Coloradans.

“Just about everybody has been real pleasant and helpful,” Adelaide Currier said.

Census officials had feared that the count might be hampered by distrustful residents, but Currier and another census employee, Cindy Kleh, said they frequently encounter helpful neighbors even as they struggle against the elements to complete the census.

Currier and Kleh worked to deliver census forms to rural homes and now are helping supervise enumerators as they complete the count by contacting addresses from which there was no immediate response.

Currier works in the rural areas of western Colorado, and Kleh is near the Continental Divide out of her hometown of Grand Lake.

The business of delivering census forms to out-of-the-way places can be confusing and difficult. Kleh said she frequently had to “post-hole” through heavy, hip-deep, late-spring snow to drop off census forms at rural addresses.

“I’m finding that people are really receptive to the census,” Kleh said, adding residents often invited her inside to complete the forms at the kitchen table.

For her, census work was a great workout, Kleh said.

“Actually, when I was doing update-leave and climbing steep drives, I was in training for the national snowboarding championship,” Kleh said.  “I was thinking that there was one competitor, Donna, that I just loved to beat. She won’t be climbing at this altitude and be in this shape, and I was right.”

One address could be worth 20 minutes of aerobic activity, Kleh said.

The physical effort is necessary to determine if a home is occupied, requiring a completed census form, and if it’s not occupied, make sure it’s properly noted.

Neighbors have helped her nail down addresses, Currier said.

Some residents at a home in which she conducted a census interview advised her that the next place would look as though the address contained a 6, even though her information suggested it contained a 9. Sure enough, a nail had fallen and the 9 looked like a 6 when she arrived, Currier said.

“One person was peeved” and didn’t want the census form she was to deliver, Currier said.

She finally persuaded him to take the form and left, only to run into him again some time later.

“He was so friendly that I had to wonder: Is this the same person?” Currier said.

By the nature of the census, it’s unlikely she ever will know whether he actually filled in the form and mailed it, she said. He, though, was the exception, she said.

“I was blessed to have people who were very anxious to get counted,” Currier said, “and they were most willing to help me.”

The face-to-face enumeration phase of the census continues through July 3, and enumerators will carry an identification badge.

People with questions about enumerators can call the Grand Junction Census Office, which covers the Western Slope, at 970-361-3690.


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