With the U.S. Census fast approaching, local government officials are keenly aware of the implications that demographic changes could have on the next decade’s worth of federal funding and legislative representation for the Cullman area.

Getting all residents to participate in the 2020 Census is vital for elected officials who want their municipalities and eligible organizations to receive the maximum available amount of federal dollars, so the Cullman County Commission is spending some money on the front end to help market the Census to as many residents as it can.

At its regular meeting this week, the commission agreed to appropriate $10,000 for the Cullman County Counts campaign, an effort to promote participation in the 2020 Census funded, in part, by a $40,000 matching grant administered by the City of Cullman.

Ashley Graves, project coordinator for the Cullman County Economic Development office, told commissioners that the county’s contribution would help secure marketing materials and advertising for the local Census drive. “It will go toward banners, fliers, advertising materials, and things to help get the word out,” said Graves.

“We are partnering with all of the municipalities, senior centers and other groups to hold some local events to make sure that Alabama, and Cullman County, are counted appropriately and accurately. As we’re all aware, the Census count does affect the federal funding that the county and cities receive, and it also affects our representation in Washington.

“We want to make sure we are getting awareness out about the Census, and to get everyone we possibly can to participate, because the result of the Census will directly affect Cullman County and all of its residents for the next ten years.”

In partnership with the committee-led effort, municipalities throughout the county are planning separate promotional events to help encourage Census participation. Graves said those events are likely to begin sometime in early March.

In other business at its regular meeting, the commission:

• Signed a proclamation congratulating county park employees under the direction of Doug Davenport for their work in improving and maintaining the 17th annual Christmas light display at Sportsman Lake Park.

• Reaffirmed the county’s existing half-cent sales tax for education at the request of the Cullman City School Board.

• Proclaimed the month of January as Human Trafficking Awareness month.

• Approved the purchase of a final drive for a Cat track loader for the road department at a cost of $16,741.

• Surplussed a track loader from the road department garage.

• Designated bank depositories for Cullman County funds for the 2020 calendar year.

• Approved the Cullman County Emergency Operations Plan for the 2020 calendar year at the request of Emergency Management Agency director Phyllis Little.

• Authorized chairman Kenneth Walker to sign an agreement with Post Panda Productions to provide musical entertainment by securing musical acts for the three summer festivals to be held this year at Smith Lake Park. Those festivals are set to take place on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, in conjunction with the annual Sweet Tater Festival.

• Approved a change order to the metal roofing project contract at the Cullman County Courthouse to accommodate access for roof-mounted HVAC equipment.

• Renewed the county’s liability self-insurance agreement for 2020 with the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA) at a cost of $395,725.

• Authorized chairman Kenneth Walker to sign an agreement with the Loomis Bros. Circus to host a family event from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 at the Cullman County Ag Center.

• Set Jan. 21 as the interview date for candidates applying for the open position of county engineer.

• Approved annual revisions to the county’s employee handbook for 2020.

• Approved a plat proposal for Creekside Estates subdivision on County Roads 1494 and 1498.

The next regular commission meeting will be held Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. in the commission meeting room of the Cullman County Courthouse. An 8:30 a.m. public work session will precede the meeting in the commission conference room.

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 145.

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