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Bilingual forms new to Census

66 percent return rate in Southbridge

October 18, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — Spanish-speaking residents might soon hear the words "hola" at their front door from more than just their friends and neighbors.

In preparation for its 2010 count, the U.S. Census Bureau is taking steps to better count, communicate and accommodate Spanish-speaking individuals in Southbridge, according to U.S. Census Bureau Senior Partnership Specialist Laura Medrano, who oversees outreach to foreign-born residents in the New England states and New York.

The agency counts the U.S. population every 10 years, as required by the Constitution, and also collects other demographic data. It is then used to determine how many seats each state should have in the U.S. House of Representatives and in applications for federal or state grants. It also has other uses.

For the first time, the agency plans to send census questionnaires, which includes questions about race, gender ethnicity and other things, in both Spanish and English to several communities, including Southbridge, Medrano said. Temporary census workers fluent in both languages and from town will canvass households that don't respond to the form, she said.

"We are very confident [the efforts will be successful]," Medrano said.

See Monday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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