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County gets ready to be counted

Ten questions, 10 minutes. That's all it takes to be counted for the 2010 census.

At Tuesday's Douglas County Board meeting, commissioners heard from Donna Hoffer, a partner specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Hoffer presented information about the upcoming census, which is a requirement of the U.S. Constitution. The census, she said, is a way to show how many people are living in the United States.

It is important, she added, because it helps determine the distribution of $300 billion annually of government funding for critical community services and generates thousands of jobs across the country.

Information collected through the census, according to Hoffer, is strictly confidential. The questionnaire, which will be mailed out to all residents with a mailing address in March of 2010, consists of 10 simple questions.

The questionnaires, however, will not be mailed to anyone with a P.O. box. Instead, Hoffer said there would be census representatives going door-to-door. When questionnaires are ready, they will be available online at

Hoffer asked the commissioners to consider forming a Complete Count Committee, which is a team of community leaders who will help promote and educate the public about the census.

A key aspect of the committee will be to identify hard to count areas, such as those with P.O. boxes, those living smaller towns in the county or people in senior living communities, she said.

Commissioner Bev Bales questioned Hoffer about the form people need to fill out. She asked what happens if people don't want to divulge information. Hoffer assured Bales and the rest of the commissioners that the form used for this census is different than the one used in 2000, which was the long form with more personal-type questions.

Hoffer said there are no questions about income, which is the type of question people don't feel comfortable answering.

"It's only 10 questions, 10 minutes. It's safe, easy and important," stressed Hoffer.

The commissioners agreed to form a committee and help with the census in any way they can.

In other action

Douglas County Coordinator Bill Schalow asked for the board's approval to accept the resignation and recommendation of the deputy registrar at the Douglas County License Bureau.

Colleen Boesen, the current deputy registrar, is planning to retire on January 22. With heavy sighs coming from all the board members and comments about sadly accepting her resignation, the board approved the request.

The board did not approve, however, another request coming from the license bureau, which was to fill a license clerk vacancy. The board asked Schalow to put the request on the agenda for the next county board meeting and asked that Boesen be present at that meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27 at 9 a.m.

The board approved several items requested by Mike Woods, director of Douglas County Social Services.

The first was for a biennial services agreement with the Minnesota Family Investment Program and Children and Community Services Act.

County commissioners also approved an Adult Mental Health Grant application, where the grant funding and revenue would be used to develop, implement and administer community-based adult mental health services. Commissioners also approved an off-sale liquor license.

The license was granted to Michael Patrick Fernholz for the proposed County Line Off-Sale Liquor, which would be located on Highway 29 South.