Note: This story appears in the Thursday, June 13 newspaper on Page A3.

Creation of an Athens County Complete Count Committee was approved Tuesday by the county commissioners. As the name implies, the committee’s purpose is to pursue a “complete count” of Athens County residents in the 2020 federal census.

Commissioner Chris Chmiel was named chairman.

“...The 2020 census is of vital importance to counties like Athens,” said Mark Boyd of the census bureau. “In addition to determining representation in Congress and influencing county planning, census data primarily determines how more that $675 billion federal dollars are distributed to states an counties like yours.”

Boyd and colleague Vicki Mattson met with the commissioners in April and discussed formation of the complete count committee.

“These are tried-and-true vehicles for increasing census self-response rates for counties,” Boyd wrote in a follow-up letter to the commissioners. “We hope you give this serious consideration. We are available to assist in training your CCC.”

Chmiel noted that the League of Women Voters of Athens County has already been bringing people together to work toward getting a complete count.

“What we’ve done is identify a group of stakeholders,” said Debbie Schmieding, a member of the Athens County league and a board member of the state league. “The goal is to have a bunch of people who can reach out to their own constituencies.”

Chmiel said Schmieding provided him with a list of about 30 people who have been attending the meetings. They are members of government, business, education, social service and other community organizations and groups.

Although the League of Women Voters has been working on the project, Chmiel said the committee needed to be officially created.

“It sounded like we needed to do something to get this officially started, so that’s why we did that (on Tuesday),” Chmiel said.

srobb@athensmessenger.com; Twitter @SteveRmessenger

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