02/17/10 — Smith: Accuracy of census important

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Smith: Accuracy of census important

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 17, 2010 1:46 PM

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Zoe McKinney, 7, of Goldsboro is surrounded by her family Tuesday morning as she talks to county commissioners about Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. Zoe, who was treated for a brain tumor just over two years ago, is honorary co-chairman for this year's Relay for Life. Her father, Wade, collects his daughter's remarks after her speech. Also pictured are her mother, Angela, and her sisters, Morgan and Brittney.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith on Tuesday morning renewed his plea for county residents to do their part to ensure the 2010 census accurately reflects the county's population.

"The 2010 census will determine the future of our county and our cities for the next 10 years -- the count has to be right," Smith said prior to the start of the board of commissioners' meeting. "We talked about in our last meeting a 10,000-person error in Wayne County will cost this county $1.2 million a year in just sales tax revenues."

There have been such errors in the past, Smith has said.

"I have estimated that over 10 years that plus a couple other grants and things that we receive, it would cost this county over $20 million in lost revenues if the count is not right," he said. "This (count) is vitally important to our community, to our schools and getting revenues for our county."

Smith said that there are local residents who are working for the federal government through the Census Bureau in putting together the 2010 census jobs.

"These jobs in Wayne County are part-time work for the next few months at $11 an hour," Smith said. "They are hiring folks now so if you are out of work or if you would like a part-time job, 40 hours a week at $11 an hour. We need quality people to count our folks."

He said that people interested in the job may go to the Web site www.2010censusjobs.gov or call 1-866-861-2010 to be set up for testing and applications for one of those jobs.

Commissioner Steve Keen told the board that while he had been unable to attend the fundraising womanless beauty pageant this past weekend, he had attended the kickoff for the Relay for Life. The womanless pageant is a fundraiser for the county employees' Relay for Life team.

The board also heard from seven-year-old Zoe McKinney who had to stand on a step-stool to reach the podium microphone.

Zoe, the honorary co-chairman for the county's Relay for Life, was surrounded by her parents, Wade and Angela McKinney, and her sisters, Brittney and Morgan.

She told commissioners that two one-half years ago she had been treated for a brain tumor at UNC Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill.

"I was treated by some of the best doctors in the world," she said. "Your support through Relay for Life, other cancer organizations, and private donations, have made it possible for hospitals like UNC to have the knowledge and abilities to do good works in the field of cancer.

"Through my faith and many people praying, I have overcome this dreadful disease. Was I scared? Yes I was, but I had my Mommy and Daddy beside the whole way. My sisters, Brittney and Morgan, were there, too. I can't leave out Pee Paw, Grandma and Mee Maw."

Zoe said she has to return to the hospital every three months for MRI's until the doctors are comfortable with her condition.

In other business, commissioners gave unanimous approval for $5,700 for the Literacy Connections of Wayne County. The newly formed literacy council is the outgrowth of work by the Literacy Connections Committee of the Chamber of Commerce's Education Council.

Donna Philips, chairperson of the Literacy Connection Committee, told commissioners that $14,549 in seed money had been provided by United Way grant, but that additional funds were needed for the group's starting budget of $27,318.

She asked commissioners for $5,669. However, the board gave $5,700.

The money, along with in-kind serves and other funding, will be used to hire a half-time executive director, she said.

Ms. Phillips said that 23 percent of the county's residents lack high school diplomas.

She said that Wayne Community College does an excellent job with its literacy program, but that additional efforts are needed. She said some people are hesitant to go to a college to seek help in learning to read.

Smith told Commissioner J.D. Evans that the project is one that he (Evans) had spoken about during a board planing retreat two years ago.

Commissioners met in closed session almost an hour before the start of the meeting at 9 a.m. The meeting was closed to discuss economic development and for advice from county attorney Borden Parker. Development Alliance President Joanna Helms and Chairman Ray McDonald Sr. met with the board.

The board took no action and had no discussion after returning to open session.