2020 Census deadline arrives, Owsley County’s response rate is the lowest in the state

Judge Executive Cale Turner says the numbers are not accurate
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 8:02 PM EDT
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OWSLEY COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - The end date of the 2020 Census has been a moving target since pandemic halted field operations in the spring. The deadline was moved a handful of times before being set for October 31,

This week, the Supreme Court ruled the Trump Administration can end the census count on October 15 instead of the end of the month.

Kentucky’s self response rate for the survey is 68.1%. The county with the lowest response rate is Owsley County with 32.2%, followed by Leslie County with 39.3%.

Owsley County Judge Executive Cale Turner, says he believes the low numbers are not accurate, as the county worked hard to complete the census.

“This community had worked as one. We were determined that we were gonna get the best count we had ever gotten," said Turner. “I went through the phone from one end to the other calling people to see if they’d done it.”

10 years ago, Owsley County’s response rate was about 52%.

“There wasn’t a third of the effort put into it that was put in this time,” said Turner.

Turner says the county, city, schools, libraries and other organizations helped people complete the census.

“The school system even towards the end of the school year last year gave bonus points to students if their students filled it out," said Turner.

After all the effort, the response rate is just 32.2%. Turner told WYMT he talked to supervisors at the Census Bureau and they assure him the final count will be higher.

“I’m holding out hope that what we’ve been assured that all of ours that have been turned on will eventually be counted," said Turner.

He says if the count stays in the 30s, it could cost the county millions of dollars.

“I think that’s cost us some grants in the past because when they look down here, they don’t realize, well they probably couldn’t do it or wouldn’t this and that," he said.

Turner is most concerned about lack of funding for the school system.

“Our future lies with our kids. That’s going to have a negative impact, to a certain degree, on their education," Turner said.

He is still holding out hope the final response rate will be where he thinks it should be, in the 80s.

“We were united the way a little community needs to be when you set out to try to make progress," said Turner. “It’s gonna have a big impact on this community for the next 10 years one way or the other.”

Mail in responses for the census needed to be postmarked by October 15.

You can respond online or by phone until 6 a.m. on October 16.

To complete the census click here.

Copyright 2020 WYMT. All rights reserved.

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