Census Road Tour Bus targets Kent

Bo Gemmell

Area around KSU represents hardest to count in Portage

The Census Road Tour Bus will stop at the Student Center this afternoon to encourage participation in the nation’s constitutionally mandated decennial headcount.

Aundrey Somerville, partnership specialist to Portage County for the 2010 Census, said the area around Kent State represents the hardest track to count in the county. Somerville said fewer than 68 percent reported census information in 2000.

Somerville said the Census Road Tour Bus will bring sample census forms and provide information about temporary jobs with the Census Bureau.

After leaving Kent, the bus will ride east to Youngstown before roaming northwest to schools, churches and libraries in the Cleveland region. ?

“We have a strong university outreach project,” Somerville said. “We realize how important student responses are.”?

She said the bus tour will have a new date set if the weather forces a cancellation today. ???

Students uninformed??

Somerville said students usually rent properties and move frequently.

“Demographically, students ages 18 to 29 are a lot more transient,” she said. “With that type of population, they’re a little harder to track.”?

The Census Bureau wants students to count themselves at the locations they live most of the year, Somerville said, even if they stay at other locations during breaks.

The traveling bus group and Somerville aren’t the only people in Northeast Ohio trying to inform students about the census. The Kent State PRSSA Bateman Team interviewed people throughout the city on Monday to measure census awareness.

The team is competing in a national competition to promote census education. ?

Katie Young, junior public relations major and Bateman Team member, said the group surveyed students and nonstudents at the Kent Free Library, the Student Center and other “hotspots around town.” The team will return to these locations at the end of the campaign to determine whether or not awareness increased.

“The younger crowd is generally less informed,” she said. “They know what the census is but not how it benefits them.”?

Young said older respondents tended to know more of the benefits.

Not just a national

population count??

Census data can allow the region to receive funding for development and repairs, Young said.

“We’re just trying to stress that a lot of federal funding can come from an accurate count,” she said.

Somerville said the federal government allocates $400 billion each year based on census responses.

“It affects everything from where roads are built to infrastructure,” Somerville said. “It also affects how universities can apply for grants and services in order to provide services to students.”

Governments also use the data for political representation. Gary Locke, Community Development director for the City of Kent, stated in an e-mail that census responses allow local, state and federal governments to determine city wards, state political districts and federal congressional districts. ?

Locke said the city uses census data to determine population trends and to help with planning purposes. ?

“The data provides us with a description of the population and housing characteristics of the city,” he stated.


Want to know how your community looked 10 years ago? Go to http://factfinder.census.gov and search by city, county or zip code and get facts from the previous census.

Contact public affairs reporter Bo Gemmell at [email protected].