(WOAY) – West Virginia receives over seven billion dollars in federal money each year for basic programs like education, infrastructure, health care, and senior services, where funding is determined solely by data collected in the US Census. Billions of more federal dollars are funneled to our state through grant and loan programs that rely on census data to determine areas of need.
Businesses, hospitals, school districts, and others also rely on census data for community planning and development. State and federal legislative seats are reallocated, and districts are redrawn every decade based on population shifts reflected in the census.
However, WV is one of the hardest to count states in the country, and our current response rate is estimated at just 48.3%. We are better than 50th place!
The Count Me In WV Coalition, Our Future WV, and community partners are hosting a statewide day of action to encourage all West Virginians to complete the 2020 US Census. Events include Census Hubs (locations where people can access a computer and get assistance with the census), online raffles, art/coloring contests for children, community cookouts, and more.
In Mercer County, fliers will be available at the Mercer County Courthouse. Due to COVID-19, most advertising will be done through social media platforms. More information can be available at www.facebook.com/commissionergregpuckett or www.facebook.com/mercercountycommissionwv.
County Commissioner Greg Puckett stated that “Having an accurate census isn’t just important, it’s essential! We cannot fail in achieving the highest count possible. Federal dollars only come when you have the people to back up where that money goes. If you don’t have accurate numbers, monies will be reallocated to other locations, and we can’t afford that!”
Currently, Mercer County is seeing about 50% counted while neighboring communities are much less. The estimated census for Mercer could show a 10% population loss in the last ten years. Puckett added, “Everything from social services, bridges, roads, and essential services like water and sewer are impacted in these numbers. We must get it right, so fill yours out now!”
Additional events are being hosted across the state by individual Count Me In WV Fellowship recipients. Sponsoring organizations include Williamson Family Resource Center, Burnsville Library, Calhoun Co. FRN, Community Connections Inc., Mason Co. FRN, Mercer Co. NAACP, New River Health, Ohio Co. FRN, Race Matters Greenbrier Valley, Mullens Opportunity Center, Raleigh Co. Community Action, Randolph Co. Commission, RESET Inc., Lincoln Co. Schools, Summers Co. Huddle, Tri-State Literacy Council, and Upshur Co. FRN.
For more information about Count Me In WV and the June 17th Day of Action, contact Carey Jo Grace at 304-747-8805 or firstname.lastname@example.org.