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North End census numbers improve

SILVERDALE — The U.S. Census Bureau’s efforts to improve census count participation in the North End may be paying off.

Census participation is up slightly in several North Kitsap areas that gave the bureau trouble in 2000. In the south Kingston area, the percentage of residents participating by mail jumped from 73 percent in 2000 to 78 percent this spring, according to Brian Maule, manager of the Census Bureau office in Silverdale. Participation is up 1 to 2 percent in the Hansville area and about 2 percent in the Suquamish area.

Rates are also up in Poulsbo, where 81 percent of households have participated, compared to 77 percent in 2000.

In 2000, the number of households mailing in census forms in parts of Kingston and Hansville was up to 10 percent lower than the rest of Kitsap County. Countywide participation this spring is at 77 percent.

The gains in North Kitsap aren’t staggering, but they are significant, Maule said. Census workers will visit each household that didn’t return a census form. That costs $80 to $90 a trip.

“That’s good,” Maule said of the gains in North Kitsap. “That saves a lot of money.”

With the poor 2000 showing in mind, Census Bureau workers began educating North End residents about the count early this year. Census representatives spoke at many community gatherings and worked with the Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes to educate members about the value of participating in the count.

On a nationwide average, each person not numbered in the census can account for $1,400 a year in lost funding to their region, according to the Census Bureau.

Mail-in forms were collected through the end of April. Census workers are now visiting households that did not return forms or have post office boxes. The door-to-door work will continue for several more weeks, Maule said, so if a household has yet to be counted, “it’s not time to panic yet.”

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