Olive Hill Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Messer Conley says she knows that many people consider the census count to be an invasion of privacy. But, she says, it really isn't that invasive, and doesn't require the submission of any personal information.

“It's the least invasive thing ever,” she told the Olive Hill Chamber last week. “They just want to count you.”

Messer Conley, who said she has worked as a census taker in the past, isn't the only local leader to focus on the importance of the census. The mayors and city councils of both Grayson and Olive Hill, as well as the Carter County Fiscal Court, have been keen to encourage participation in the 2020 Census. The numbers generated by the census can influence several different areas, including congressional representation and the funding that is available for communities from the state and federal governments.

Carter County Judge Executive Mike Malone has noted that this includes federal and state transportation dollars that the county can use to repair roads – one of the most requested forms of improvement sought by county residents addressing the court. In the case of future emergencies, such as floods or mud slides caused by heavy rain, it could also influence the amount of federal FEMA dollars the county would qualify for.

“It's important for so many things,” Malone said in a recent fiscal court meeting.

It's equally important cities like Olive Hill and Grayson when they are requesting funding for various projects. The more individuals they can show are impacted by a project, the mayors of both cities have pointed out, the more likely they are to secure and receive sufficient funding to complete a project.

Completing the census count will be as easy as checking the mail and sending back the form for most county residents, Messer Conley said. But census takers will also be knocking on doors, especially in rural areas, to make sure that families have received and returned the form, or to assist in returning the form if they have not.

The Census Bureau is also looking for workers to help with taking the census locally. You can find more information about these jobs by visiting 2020census.gov/jobs, online, or by calling 1-855-JOB-2020.

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

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