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2010 Census groundwork is underway

While nearly a year away, work for the 2010 Census steps up locally with a town hall organizing meeting Tuesday.

Geared for local elected officials and community leaders, the town hall meeting will discuss how local efforts to count every person can be aided by establishing a complete count committee.

The town hall meeting is 6 p.m. at Bemidji City Hall and is held by the Minnesota State Demographic Center.

"Minnesota is one of a handful of states in jeopardy of losing a congressional seat through the reapportionment that will follow the Census," says a statement from the State Demographic Center.

"Further, Census 2010 will have a profound impact on Minnesota's representation in local, state and the federal government," it said. "The accuracy of the decennial census count will have significant weight on how over $300 billion in federal dollars will be distributed annually to communities throughout the U.S. and Minnesota."

The meeting will feature a short presentation on complete count committees -- what they do, why they are important and how to form them -- followed by time for questions.

A complete count committee is a team of community leaders appointed by the highest elected official to develop and implement a locally based outreach and awareness campaign for the 2010 Census.

The role of the complete count committee is to plan and implement the locally formed outreach and promotion effort to publicize the importance of responding to the April 1, 2010.

The voluntary committee multiplies the outreach and promotion efforts of the U.S. Census Bureau, which also plans to have an office in Bemidji to coordinate local census operations.

Beltrami County is expected to see population growth in the future, part of band of counties that extends north from the Twin Cities. Most of rural Minnesota outside that band is expected to see population declines.

Beltrami County's population of 34,384 in 1990 grew 15.3 percent to 39,650 in 2000. The State Demographic Center estimated the county's population at 43,320 in 2007 and projects a 2010 population of 45,040.

From the 2000 Census, the county had a minority population of 9,407. It had an urban population of 12,492 and a rural population of 27,158.

The median age of a Beltrami County resident in 2000 was 31.5 and 1999 median household income $33,392, but median family income was higher at $40,345. The percent of the population below poverty levels was 17.6 percent.

Census data provides government and others with a host of information to tailor services, in addition to reapportioning federal and state legislative districts.

Data can help with public transportation, programs for the elderly, planning for congregations, emergency food and shelter, road rehabilitation and construction, developing adult education programs, and more.