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County prepares for 2020 Census counts

Louis Jaramillo, Chaves County Planning and Zoning director, will head the Chaves County Complete Count Committee for the upcoming census. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Resolution approves committee, spending of state funds 

Chaves County will have a group working to educate county residents about the upcoming Census, which will affect federal funding and legislative representation for the area.

Louis Jaramillo, director of the Chaves County Planning and Zoning Department, has been named head of the Chaves County Complete Count Committee.

It will function as one of the subcommittees of the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee created by the city of Roswell in May and headed by Marcos Nava, executive director of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce.

The Chaves County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 Thursday on a resolution to approve the committee and its use of state funds.

“This is a very important Census,” said County Manager Stanton Riggs. “In New Mexico, each individual counts a lot more than in other states because of our low population, so we want to see as many people as possible be counted and also work with the city on that.”

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Riggs explained that the resolution is required by the state to authorize committee expenditures of state funding.

“Our money is about $52,000 total,” he said. “The goal is to use about $25,000 to contract with the city of Roswell. If they match that, and they have assured me they will be matching it, we will use that money only for print media, billboards and radio.”

Remaining funds will be used in outlying communities in the Pecos Valley to communicate with residents about the need to complete the Census during the upcoming decennial population count.

The counts determine the drawing of congressional and state legislative districts, the number of House of Representative members a state has, and the number of state legislative members from various regions. It also determines how much in federal funding the state and counties will receive for housing, transportation, road construction, schools, libraries, child care and prekindergarten, and numerous other programs. The data is also frequently used by businesses in determining where to locate new sites or services.

“We have to have that representation because everybody knows, we are kind of the red-headed stepchild in southern New Mexico,” said Commissioner Dara Dana. “So we need people to understand how important this is, that everyone is counted and that we have that representation in Washington D.C.”

Jaramillo has eight members on his committee now, according to Riggs, with the possibility of another member being added who lives in the “bootheel” or southern region of the county.

Nava said that the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee is meeting monthly at this point and has formed six or seven subcommittees, including the county committee, an educational committee, a religion committee and a homeless committee.

“The job of the subcommittees is to create an organization within those areas to figure out how best we can go out and hit those entities,” he said.

The goal is to ensure that people know of the upcoming survey and understand its importance and to communicate with people who might not otherwise be counted, including several families living together in one residence or those without a permanent residence.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.