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Time to be counted
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Mail carriers last week stuffed every residential mailbox in Dawson County with 2010 Census packets.


Census bureau representatives now say return the forms or have census workers knock on your door and answer the 10 questions in person.


One of the shortest census forms in U.S. history, census representatives hope the short form, expected to take about 10 minutes to complete, will encourage quick returns.


Households have until April 1 to return the form. Census reports indicate the cost to track down non-responders is about $2.7 million for every 1 percent of the population that doesn’t respond.


In addition to affecting the number of seats a state occupies in congress, census information is also used to determine which counties receive state and federal funds.


“If we don’t fully count ourselves, then we’re missing out on funding sources,” said Linda Williams, president of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce. “I filled out mine and returned it the day I got it.”


Census workers will begin canvassing neighborhoods in May and visiting the homes of those who do not return the forms.


The census bureau is hoping for a 72 percent mail return, about 5 percent higher than 10 years ago.


Georgia’s return in 2000 was slightly below the state level at 65 percent.


Dawson County had a 61 percent mail return rate, according to census figures. 


Both the Dawsonville City Council and the Dawson County Board of Commissioners adopted proclamations last year encouraging the community to participate in the count.


All census responses are kept confidential, with answers that can not be shared with anyone protected by law.


Williams said she received the much longer form during the 2000 census and admits some of the questions made her a bit uneasy.


“But this year the questions were not intrusive and it did take just about 10 minutes,” she said.


For those with questions or concerns about the survey, a census employee is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon in the conference room at city hall.


“They can just stop by, and she’ll be glad to help them,” said City Administrator Kim Cornelison.