Census 2000 work nearly wrapped up in Tonganoxie area
Census enumerators in the Tonganoxie area should complete their work soon.
For nearly two months, a team of 20 Census 2000 workers canvassed a large section of western and central Leavenworth County. The enumerators targeted those people who had not returned completed census forms by April 1.
"Most of the people have been very nice," said Lois Seelbinder, a Tonganoxie woman who was crew leader for the 20-member team.
"So many of them said they sent their census forms back in. Evidently, they didn't get into the office in time to get the information in our registers. Most people were very cooperative, though, and would give us the information again. We've gotten along very well in Leavenworth County."
Although Seelbinder and other census workers cannot discuss the specifics of their work, she and several other local census workers did talk about the government's tally of citizens.
It was curiosity, to some degree, and a desire to stay active that prompted Seelbinder and her husband, Ed, to sign up as census workers. And even double knee-replacement surgery in February couldn't keep Seelbinder from her job with the census. She was back to work several weeks after her operation.
"My husband and I are both retired, and we both are very active and it was wintertime when we heard about it first," Seelbinder said.
She said the work should wrap up locally soon.
"In a couple of weeks, I'll be out of a job," she said. "I enjoy this when I do it, but I'm looking forward to the time when my time is free again."
It appears that Seelbinder's crew is running ahead of the national average.
"We're hoping to be done by the first week in July, perhaps mid-July," said Debra Peebles, media specialist for the census region that covers Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Minnesota.
In some areas of the country, it's been difficult to attract workers, she said.
"There's also a large job turnover," Peebles said. "It really isn't the job for everyone. But a lot of people give it a try because our pay rate is quite high."
Census workers receive $11.50 an hour in this area, while crew leaders earn $13, she said.
The Census 2000 results will be presented to President Clinton and Congress on Dec. 31. Those results will be available to the public on April 1, 2001.
Going door-to-door, working for the U.S. Census Bureau, was something that Connie Putthoff always had wanted to do. So last summer, she took a test. By February, she hadn't heard anything. Then she was called into action.
Like other workers, Putthoff said one of the challenges is catching residents at home.
"I'm finding a lot of people not home because both adults are working," said Putthoff. "So I've put a card on the door, asking them to please call me. We have to record the time and the day that we go to these homes, and some of them I've gone back to three times already and I'm still not getting a response."
Jim Lambert, who's been gathering census data from rural Leavenworth County residents, agreed. Generally, Lambert said, people have been willing to answer his questions.
"The biggest majority of the people were very cooperative," Lambert said.
Putthoff and the other workers said they're strong believers in the benefits of full participation in the census.
"Everybody knows that the more people you have, the more representatives you have in Congress and the more money your area gets," Putthoff said. "That's why it's important to have a headcount."