Local head county nearly complete
June 11, 2008 · Updated 10:58 AM
"One of the most monumental tasks of the past 10 years in the West Sound is starting to wind down in Silverdale.Activity at the Mickleberry Road U.S. Census Bureau office is beginning to slow down as this decade's count comes to an end. The census' shrinking staff is double checking all the numbers it has enumerated since 1998 and preparing to close this fall.We just have a couple of mopping-up operations, said Roger Raney, who ran the Silverdale office. We're out to get the 99.9 percent confidence in our figures.Raney's office tried to count every man, woman and child in a region spanning Kitsap, Jefferson, Clallam, Mason and Grays Harbor counties. The five-county region has a population of roughly 250,000 people who live in 90,000 housing units. During its peak of operation in April, the office was the control center for 1,500 interviewers and office staff. The largest task the census office had was non-response follow-up, when workers went door to door to get information that was late or never received by the office. Raney estimated he had a non-response rate of about 33 percent, which caused him to send people to nearly 30,000 housing units. To his surprise, the door-to-door portion came off for the most part without a hitch. Census workers actually got more responses from people concerned they were not counted than from those who wanted to have nothing to do with the census. No one died and there were no naked respondents, Raney said. There were a lot more stories in California. Raney, a retired Army officer and helicopter pilot from Ft. Hood in Texas, was quick to praise his staff. The role of a census staffer can be difficult since the Constitutionally required head count takes place every 10 years. I'm surprised a non-military outfit could actually execute this in a two-year time frame, Raney said. There is not anyone here who had prior experience. Raney is also pleased because he is coming in ahead of time and under budget, a fact he said shows how well he and his staff managed the daunting census task. Raney said he will double check his numbers by taking a sample of 13,000 housing units starting this week. He thinks his office will close down completely in September, when he and his co-workers will also start looking for new jobs. I'm glad it's over, Raney said. It's time to move on. Know anyone hiring?"