Bertie leaders receive census location update

Published 11:08 am Monday, November 26, 2018

WINDSOR – In March 2018, Mid-East Commission Executive Director Bryant Buck presented a proposal for Bertie County’s participation in the 2020 LUCA (Local Update of Census Addresses) program to the county’s Board of Commissioners.

Created in 1994, the LUCA program helps facilitates state and local participation in building the all-important address list for each census, giving state and local governments the opportunity to review and update the Census Bureau’s address list and digital maps for a community’s specific areas.

LUCA has been especially beneficial in reflecting the knowledge of non-traditional and low visibility housing in local communities. It also helps ensure the census counts the residents of all housing units and puts them in the right place. Finally, it assists the local communities in qualifying for federal grant funds.

“There’s a potential loss of $1,600 per resident annually if documentation is not accurate during the census-gathering process,” said Board vice-chair Ron Wesson at the time.

“Imagine missing one group-home with 10 people, that’s $16,000, and then compound that over 10 years it would be $160,000 just for a missed count,” Wesson acknowledged. “For a mobile home park you don’t count the mobile homes, you count the mobile home slots; then there’s the prison count. You see it hurts us in federal dollars and in county ranking. Economically, this is very important.”

“Let’s get these residential customers represented so they can receive the appropriate information for the 2020 census,” Buck declared.

The Commissioners then unanimously approved engaging the Mid-East Commission to do a complete update of address points in Bertie County at a cost of $17,500.

Last week, Buck reported back to the Commissioners with a follow-up. Much of the work, he noted, was done in conjunction with the assistance of the county’s Mapping Department, the county Tax Office, and even Emergency Management personnel.

“We have been able to create address-point layers based on around 14,900 building footprints,” Buck said. “There were also some 5,000 active utility addresses for the county.”

Buck noted there was a discrepancy in some of the census information and what was on file from other sources.

“Some of the census information (from 2010) was not accurate with the county, and vice-versa,” he said. “So what we did was going around and try to clean up much of that data and try to make an accurate depiction of what is actually on the ground.”

The census wants to see state-county census-track census-block, street number, and x-y location as their tracking formula.

“Around 10,000 addresses were analyzed and reviewed for census, and over 1,000 addresses were confirmed on site,” Buck acknowledged. “You probably got calls about who were these folks, and why they were writing down notes about my neighborhood.”

He said they are merging addresses with the names of the individuals who live at a certain residence, or are located at a certain business along with other formatted information.

“This information will be turned over to the county once all of it is assimilated for your mapping purposes, the tax offices, and even your 9-1-1 system,” he said. “It’ll be cleaned up a bit, but it will give you a nice clean system that everybody can use.”

Buck said they hope to complete the assimilation of the data within the next few weeks.

The Commissioners were also briefed on the Mid-East Commission’s application for a grant to staff a full-time Disaster Recovery Specialist.

“It’s a $250,000 grant covering a two-year period that allows us to bring in someone to assist with things like mapping storm water infrastructure,” he acknowledged. “While loads of resources have come into the county, I still get calls from businesses or residents looking for financial assistance for housing and repairs of structures.”

Buck said, if approved, the grantee would work a three-county area (Beaufort, Pitt, and Bertie) affected by Hurricane Florence; allowing them to do community forums, outreach, work with Emergency Management, and assist in guiding applicants through the disaster relief process.

“I know loads of information came into Bertie County, but there are still folks who haven’t taken advantage of it,” he said. “This will allow us to address some of those needs.”

The Director also requested a hand in informing the county’s citizens that the Career Center, one of five in the region, has moved to 105 Granville Street in Windsor and will be hosting an Open House within the next several weeks.

“They’ll assist with resume building, job searches, and work with potential employers so we can maximize and match our workforce with employers,” he said.