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Community leaders gather to discuss 2000 census

With Census Day - April 1 - only six months away, city and county

officials and representatives of community organizations throughout

the Northwest gathered in Portland, Ore., two weeks ago for an intensive

two-day conference on Census 2000.

More than 250 delegates and Census Bureau representatives

attended the conference. The main focus of the event was to provide information

and strategies to insure a complete and accurate count in every

community throughout the states of Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Several

hundred Complete Census Committees have been formed throughout the

three states to provide advice and support to the Census Bureau to promote

participation in the census. These committees will also assist in recruiting

in their communities for the thousands of census employees who must

be hired to carry on census operations during Census 2000.

Oregon Treasurer Jim Hill addressed the delegates during the

conference. He stressed the economic impact of the census and the

importance of an accurate count in legislative redistricting and congressional

apportionment that is based on census numbers. Delegates also heard

from Alan Porter, the state of Idaho's liaison to the Census Bureau, who -

as Idaho's demographer - has been closely involved with the census

for nearly 30 years.

Michael Burns, Deputy Regional Director for the Census Bureau's

Seattle Region - which includes Idaho, Oregon and Washington, as well

as Alaska and Northern California - told the delegates that community

involvement was crucial to a successful count.

"Census 2000 cannot be the Census Bureau's census," he

announced. "To be successful, it has to be Portland's census; it has to be

Seattle's census; it has to be McMinnville's census; it has to be your

community's census.

"You know your communities. We do not. We need your help in

identifying areas where extra effort will be needed to get the word out on the

importance of the census to everyone in your community. We need your

help to find good people in every community who would like to work for

us during the census.

"With your help, we can be sure that your communities are

fairly counted, and fairly represented in the allocation of billions of federal

dollars for essential services," Burns concluded. "With your help, we can

have the best census in history."

A number of Complete Census Committees throughout the

Northwest have been working for as long as a year on plans to promote the

census in their communities. One of the local coordinators is Trudy Stotz of

North Bend.

"We're even trying to get the schools involved," she

commented. "They have a curriculum put together."

The curriculum, titled "Census in the Schools," provides teachers

with information about the census for classroom discussions, and will help

them teach students how the census is used by governments, business and

community groups to plan for the future.

The key, said Stotz, is community involvement and help.

"We especially need help in areas known as `hard to renumerate' -

in other words, hard to count - such as non-English-speaking communities.

If there's anyone out there who is bilingual, it would help us a lot."

If you have suggestions, questions, or are willing to contribute to the

census process, please call Stotz at the North Bend Community Services

Department, (425) 888-5633.

For information on census activities in the vicinity of Snoqualmie,

contact Rhonda Montgomery at (425) 888-5337. In Carnation, call city

administrator Woody Edvalson at (425) 333-4192. Persons in the Duvall

area who have questions or wish to assist should contact Kerry Kriner at

(425) 788-1185.

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