Linda Baptiste, partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, presented County Commissioner Clarence Brown, Information Officer Brandon Johnson and members of the Complete Count Committee with a plaque acknowledging their work toward helping the federal government achieve an accurate census count. She said the local officials were a "value partner" toward the bureau's work and that the county's response rate this year topped the one from the 2000 census.
"Bartow County did a great job of helping us get an accurate and complete count for Census 2010," Baptiste said. "This committee worked hard by talking to schools, talking to people in their communities, passing out promotional material and did what they could to get the word out about encouraging people to fill out the census form when they received them. Some partners just passed out promotional material, but this Complete Count Committee took time out of their schedule to make individual phone calls, to make presentations on their own, to hold events in their community, to allow me to speak at their events -- that's above and beyond."
"I accept this on behalf of Brandon and this committee," Brown said after receiving the plaque. "They did all the hard work."
Johnson, who also served as chairman of the Complete Count Committee, said the county had a 75 percent initial response rate, which refers to residents mailing back forms before the response deadline. That rate, he said, was one of the better rates in the area and the state.
Committee members, he added, involved city officials, schools, the business community, churches and other groups as they got the word out about the importance of responding.
"We had a goal of getting to 72 percent, because that would been 10 [percentage] points higher than in 2000. So we exceeded our goal ... I really appreciate all the cities and all of the committee members who put in their effort," Johnson said. "It's good to do so much better than in 2000, because the more accurate your count, the more federal funding you're up for, and it can hurt you if you don't have an accurate count. That was a good response rate, and we should be getting our fair share in the future."
In an interview earlier this year, Johnson said every person who fills out his or her census form equates to about $1,700 to $2,000 more in local funding.