This week, local residents should find in their mailboxes an envelope containing a survey that will only take a few minutes to fill out but will mean a lot to our community in the future.
It's the Census 2010 -- and the responses from it will be used to determine political districts and to distribute things such as federal dollars for transportation. Our valley is perpetually shorted on many things, so residents can help truly help the community and help themselves by responding.
The deadline is April 1 -- no fooling.
Households that don't return the Census form will be visited in person by a census taker. We think it's much easier to just fill it out. There are only 10 questions for each person living or staying at the house. The information by household is kept confidential for 72 years, after which time it becomes available. At that point, it's generally used by historians and by individuals doing genealogical research.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
The Census forms -- or the enumerators themselves -- do not ask about income levels or for Social Security numbers or bank account numbers. If you receive any requests for such material, it's not a bonafide Census question and we urge you not to answer.
The Census form asks only for this information about each person living or staying in the house or other dwelling unit: Name, sex, age and date of birth, whether you are of Hispanic origin, race, household relationship and if you own or rent.
It doesn't matter whether you are behind on your mortgage or maybe have one more person staying in the apartment than the lease allows. Information gathered by the Census cannot be used to go after someone.
However, if people ignore the Census, it will hurt our community in terms of understanding our population and in the way money is allocated for public health services, for instance.
So please, fill out your Census form immediately and accurately. And put it back in the mail -- no stamp is required.
For more information, including where to get help with the forms, go to www.modbee.com/census.