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Census Officials Hold Meeting In Adirondacks To Discuss Upcoming Count

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The New York State Complete Count Commission was created earlier this year to assure that all residents of the state are counted in the 2020 census. Representatives of the group were in the Adirondacks Wednesday to discuss how the state is gearing up for the effort.
According to the New York State Complete Count Commission, the state has a disproportionally large number of people in what are called hard-to-count populations.  Those demographics include children under 5, residents of dense urban and very rural locations, immigrants, people of color and those who live in poverty. The Commission has been holding a series of public meetings to create a plan and establish local working groups to assure a complete count.

The Adirondacks is a 10,000-square mile mixture of private and public lands across the northern swath of New York.  The 14 counties include more than 4 million acres of forests, 14 cities and 113 villages.

During a meeting in Ray Brook,  New York Regional Census Center Assistant Regional Census Manager Lisa Moore provided an overview of  the upcoming census, noting that their goal is to count everyone.  “The bottom line we wanted to make sure is conveyed is the privacy and confidentiality. By law the Census Bureau we cannot share any information that we’re collecting with anyone.”

Complete Count Commission Executive Director Richard Tobe urged local officials to form local Complete Count Committees.  “You know your communities and how best to organize that and who’s going to reach people. And although it’s still a ways off there’s not that much time anymore. We urge you to form Complete Count Committees.”

Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and North Country REDC Co-Chair Jim McKenna said the region has less than a third of the state’s population yet provides services to over 12 million tourists annually.  “It means a lot for us especially because we have to provide that service for 12 million visitors or more on an annual basis.”
Tobe: “How can we help you? How can the state help having the census?”
McKenna:  “Well I think understanding that just like the Regional Councils work that not one thing fits everywhere.”  

The Adirondack Foundation works with nonprofits providing grants across the region but Vice President of Communications & Strategic Initiatives Connie Prickett says private philanthropy can never replace vital government funded services.  She attended the presentation to find out how the Foundation can help.  “An undercount I think could have greater repercussions here  in the Adirondacks because of our small population. The census data drives how much federal funding is allocated to New York and it filters down to our counties and our communities and the services that people need so that’s why it matters so much to us.”

Prickett was intrigued by the idea of forming local complete count committees.  “There’s so much potential in our communities for those kinds of committees to be formed. And we’re going to start with trying to engage people in our Adirondack Birth-to-Three Alliance. That’s a program that is looking to improve the lives of children between zero and three, the first thousand days of life. Those are caregivers, they are providers, service providers, they’re pediatricians and so we can use sort of use some reliable messengers to help get the word out how important the census is.”

Census data determines allocation of federal programs such as Medicaid, SNAP and highway funding along with defining voting districts and the number of U.S. House seats.

A link to the archived webstream of the meeting is here.

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