County holds off on census program decision

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BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Commission on Thursday learned about an opportunity to participate in a U.S. Census Bureau program aimed at ensuring accurate local population counts.
Janet Spry, a West Virginia partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau out of Philadelphia, addressed the commission at its regular meeting, encouraging them to participate in the 2020 Census Local Update of Census Addresses Operation program, or LUCA.
“LUCA is a voluntary program offered only once a decade, and it came about because there were so many complaints about under counts in the 1990s Census,” Spry said. “I think this will be a real asset for all of our counties and municipalities in West Virginia.”
According to a flyer distributed by Spry, LUCA is the sole opportunity offered to tribal, state and local governments to review and comment on the U.S. Census Bureau’s residential address list for their jurisdiction before the 2020 Census. Counties and municipalities are encouraged to participate in LUCA because it helps ensure an accurate decennial census count in communities; aids the federal government in dispersing more than $400 billion in funds every year for infrastructure, programs and services; and helps communities in planning for future needs.
County addressing and mapping coordinator Terri Jo Bennett, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said joining the program would likely be beneficial to the county. However, she expressed concern about how much time a county employee would be required to invest in the project.
“I think it’s a great program,” Bennett said. “I think that we have a lot of the information generated already, so I think if we can help, why not? My biggest concern is time because it’s ultimately going to cost the county money for me to spend time working on a Census project.”
The deadline to register for the LUCA program is Dec. 15.
Commission president Terry Cutright said he would need more information before making a decision about whether the county would participate.
“I’m not prepared to make a decision on that,” Cutright said.
In other county business, the county approved an amendment to its agenda format.
County administrator Carrie Wallace briefed the commission and meeting attendees on the change.
“Commissioner (Sam) Nolte has noted the amount of paper that we waste, so we’re going to try to reduce that, but still provide the full agenda online,” Wallace said.
Wallace said the agenda sections, “scheduled appointments,” “items for discussion/action/approval” and “for your information” will remain on the commission’s revised agenda; however, newsletters, event notifications, agendas and/or notices of meetings, meeting minutes and scheduled meetings will no longer be provided in a hard copy paper format. Instead, that information will be available online at www.upshurcounty.org/agenda_and_minutes/index.php.
Nolte said reducing the length of the commission’s agenda would save the county money.
“Most of this stuff doesn’t leave the room, and it just ends up in the garbage,” Nolte said.
Nolte made a motion to amend the agenda format, which was seconded by commissioner Troy “Buddy” Brady before passing unanimously.
Before adjourning, the commission also:
p Approved the seasonal employment of Carla J. Cosner as concession stand manager at Buckhannon-Upshur Recreational Park. Cosner will begin part-time work on or around May 1 and commence full-time employment on May 14 at a wage rate of $10 per hour.
p Approved the employment of Elizabeth Kelley as a part-time case aide for the 26th Judicial Circuit Court Community Corrections Day Report Center Upshur County office effective April 16, pending background check results. Her rate of pay will be $9.50 per hour, and she will work up to 19.5 hours per week.
p Approved the employment of James Lough Jr. as a part-time case aide for the 26th Judicial Circuit Court Community Corrections Day Report Center Lewis County office effective April 16, pending background check results. His rate of pay will be $9.50 per hour, and he will work up to 19.5 hours per week.
p Approved Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility volunteer Kenny Saffle.

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