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Willmar snowbirds asked to use Census forms from home

Willmar City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday speaks recently at the city office. A member of Willmar's Complete Count Committee, Halliday discussed the panel's efforts to educate the public about the importance of completing Census forms -- the form mailed to their home address. (Tribune photo by Gary Miller)

WILLMAR -- Attention all Willmar snowbirds: Please fill out the Census form mailed to your Willmar address, rather than the form mailed to your temporary southern address.

By filling out the form mailed to your Willmar address rather than the form mailed to your southern address, you benefit your home city and state rather than your temporary southern city and state.

That's the message from City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday, a member of Willmar's Complete Count Committee, part of a national effort by the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure a complete count in 2010.

"We're trying to get the word out that they do not answer the questionnaire that is delivered to their temporary address,'' Halliday said.

The Census will be mailing questionnaires in mid-March to all regular addresses. Minnesotans who spend the winter months in warmer states will receive Census questionnaires at both their Minnesota and snowbird addresses.

Halliday said the forms are "geo-coded,'' which indicates the geographic location to which the form was mailed. Snowbirds that fill out the form mailed to their temporary southern address will be counted by the Census Bureau as a resident of that state, even though they fill out the questionnaire with their Willmar address.

"We're trying to get the message out that they either need to wait until they return to their Willmar address ... or have family or someone advance it from their Willmar address here down to them because the Post Office will not forward any questionnaire,'' Halliday said.

Besides informing snowbirds, committee members will be meeting with various immigrant and minority populations to encourage them to fill out the Census forms.

"The key to doing that, we feel, is to have local people that these citizens trust to convince them that this is not someone working for Immigration and Customs Enforcement or any of that,'' said Halliday. "It's just simply out here to do a better head count to get representation and future funding.''

Members of Willmar's Complete Count Committee were nominated by Mayor Les Heitke and appointed last week by the City Council. Members, including Halliday, and the areas they represent are:

- Abdi Duh, East African population.

- Bill Busta, Willmar Public Schools human resources director.

- Bruce Peterson, director of city planning and development services.

- Chris Beyerl, Willmar Public Library head librarian.

- Ken Warner, Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce president.

- Marian Sanches, La Gran newspaper.

- Sam Moddermann, Kandiyohi County auditor, and Mark Thompson, assistant county auditor.

- Megan Sauer, Willmar city planner.

- Naomi Mahler, Willmar Area Ministerial Association.

- Roberto Valdez, Willmar Area Multicultural Market coordinator, Latino population.

- Donn Winkler, executive director, Mid-Minnesota Development Commission.

"The committee people know the importance of the Census and want to get a quality Census conducted in Willmar,'' Halliday said.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150