Feds looking for census takers

The federal government is gearing up for its 2020 Census, and county residents are being asked to help locally with the effort. Lisa Strickland, local census recruiter, was on hand during the Claiborne Commission meeting last week to detail the needs and benefits for the county.

Although the official taking of the census does not occur until April 1, 2020, the federal government is launching the preplanning and training stages.

Those hired to participate in the census taking will be paid a minimum of $13.50 per hour and 58 cents per mile. The job offers paid training and flexible hours.

“We really need people who know the county to do mapping. They’ll be given a handheld device where they can (input the location of each structure). So, when it comes to enumeration time, we won’t have people driving all over the place,” said Strickland.

The 2020 Census is expected to be 100 percent online, she said.

“It’s all about making sure every resident is counted. Why? For every resident we miss, you lose $1,091 per person in government funding for the county. In 2000, we counted only 65 percent of enumeration, which means we were real close to missing half the population. In 2010, we were still missing about a quarter of the population,” said Strickland.

The Census provides valuable county information. For instance, results can redraw district boundaries and determine just how many representatives each state sends to the U.S. Congress. Roads, schools and emergency services can be impacted by the numbers gleaned from the Census.

Strickland said the county previously had pockets of areas in which many residents were not counted. The Arthur Shawanee/Harrogate areas and the cities of Tazewell and New Tazewell came “up short,” she said.

Those spearheading the effort need locations that can be used for Census training and meetings. Those structures need to be ADA compliant and provide WiFi.

To qualify, you must be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen and a holder of a valid social security number. If hired, you must pass a criminal background check and be willing to have your criminal records reviewed. You must also be willing to work days, evenings and weekends.

You must also have a valid driver’s license and access to a vehicle. You will need access to a computer with Internet in order to complete training.

For more information, contact Kimberly Smith, partnership specialist, at 865-936-1592 or email her at: kimberly.smith@2020census.gov.

You may apply online at: 2020census.gov/jobs.

The commissioners also gave their “thumbs up” to the formation of an adventure tourism district. County mayor Joe Brooks spoke about the proposal.

Brooks said that since 2014, the state has seen nearly $600 million in tourism dollars that were generated through those counties that have an adventure tourism district.

Both Campbell and Union counties have created districts. There has been an increase of some 30 percent, or roughly $2.5 million from added tourism dollars from the Campbell County district, since its creation a couple of years ago.

“There are tax incentives available for those who want to establish a business. You have to have so much money in development and so many people to hire to qualify. Anybody who would want to do business (in Claiborne County) would have to hire a minimum of 10 people,” said Brooks.

Additional tax revenues could be generated, he said, by adopting local laws that would require permits for ATVs traveling public-use roads. Since most ATVs are “powered” and require turn signals and lights, the county could require ATVS to carry a wheel tax as well, he said.

Brooks gave suggestions on just where the district could be located. He said it could begin at the Campbell County line, picking up Clairfield before following a portion of TN 63 to the saw mill. The district could then move into Tipprell before ending in the town of Cumberland Gap.

There are no restrictions on the number of adventure tourism districts within a county, he said.

Brooks suggested future districts could be created in the southern tip of the county that would connect to the Chuck Swan ferry and other points of interest.

In other action, Brooks said he would check with the state for updates on the proposed widening of the intersection at Cedar Fork Road and U.S. 25E. The existing intersection has been an ongoing concern for tractor trailer drivers who must negotiate the narrow turn when heading toward the Industrial Park and other businesses.

Future plans could include straightening Cedar Fork Road and constructing a bridge with an on ramp to bypass the intersection.

The Claiborne Drivers’ License Renewal Office is in the process of purchasing equipment that will allow the use of credit cards as payment. The commissioners approved the expenditure of some $1,460 for the new equipment.