Census touts ’10 questions, 10 minutes in 2010′

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CHESTERVILLE — Census workers started visiting homes door-to-door in Franklin County Monday, said Terry Drake, census office manager for Augusta.

When Loraine Gustafson, 79, of Chesterville found a form at her door yesterday but didn’t see who delivered it, she started talking with neighbors. She became concerned when one neighbor told her the census person had indicated he would also get a census form in the mail and to just destroy one.

That seemed wasteful to Gustafson who worked hard to raise five children and admitted she finds she “doesn’t trust my government anymore.” She started wondering why and what would happen if someone didn’t destroy one and submitted both, she said.

“There is a myriad of checking responses and a process in place to catch that,” Drake said.

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Managing eight counties stretching across central Maine, Drake explained that residents in most of those counties will have someone come to their door. In some urban areas like Augusta, census forms will be mailed and there are a couple smaller towns in Franklin County where residents will receive the 2010 census form by mail, he said.

But for most towns, the workers, many of whom are hired from within the community — a familiar face to people, he said, will go door-to-door to update the address and leave a form that is then mailed back to the census office.

“They don’t always talk to someone but check the address and leave the form,” he said. “We’d like to have the responses as soon as possible but if we start getting national reports by mid- to late-April that the resident has not responded, then we go back and knock on doors and fill out the form with them,” he said.

The most cost-effective way to undertake the national gathering of information is for people to fill out the form and mail it back in the prepaid postage envelope by April 1.

“They won’t hear from us again,” he said.

All census information received across the country is processed in Jeffersonville, Ind., he said.

The big change in this census, taken every 10 years, is that this year the form is shorter. There are only 10 questions compared to previous years where a multitude of questions were asked and the forms could take some time to complete.

“This year it’s ‘Ten questions, Ten minutes in 2010,’” he said.

There are other census surveys taken all the time, most request the information from the long form, he added.

More information about the 2010 census is available at www.2010.census.gov

 abryant@sunjournal.com

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