Census countdown

WESLACO — The associate director of the U.S. Census Bureau’s field operations division will speak at a Census 2020 forum Monday at the McAllen Convention Center.

Timothy Olson began his career at the Census Bureau in 1987 as a temporary employee in the Seattle region during the 1990 and 2000 censuses. He joined the Census Bureau’s headquarters team in 2001 and in 2015 became chief of the field division.

Olson and a panel of Valley leaders consisting of Sergio Contreras with the RGV Partnership, Bishop Daniel Flores with the Catholic Diocese, Veronica Gonzalez with UTRGV, Ron Garza with the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council and Christina Houle with the Equal Voice Network will also participate in the discussion.

The free event at the convention center will be held from 6-7 p.m. Monday with doors opening at 5:15 p.m.

“We will have displays out there, the U.S. Census 2020 table, and the U.S. Census job recruitment table,” said Nedra Kinerk of Futuro RGV, speaking at a meeting of the Valley’s Complete Count Committees here at the LRGVDC offices.

Kinerk said Hidalgo and Cameron counties will have information tables, as well as a number of Valley cities to answer questions from the audience.

“At 5 o’clock we are having a VIP reception for Timothy Olson to meet with elected and community leaders,” Kinerk told the Complete County Committee representatives. “It’ll be about a half an hour or so of that before the forum. “

The Complete Count Committees formed by the four counties in the Valley census area — Willacy, Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr — along with those created by municipalities are the backbone of Valley efforts to ensure as accurate a count as possible.

The region has historically been undercounted in previous censuses, and for each person not counted a city or county loses potentially as much as $1,500 a year over the decade span until the next census is conducted.

In the Valley, 24 Complete Count Committees have formed, creating the most densely packed number of committees anywhere in the state outside the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.

“Obviously, we have been promoting it a lot,” said Ron Garza, executive director of the Lower RGV Development Council, which has served as facilitator in encouraging the Complete Count Committees in preparation for Census 2020.

“I think what really changed is the Complete Count Committees have a pretty complex structure,” he added. “Once we kind of assured them, ‘do what you can, make your version of a Complete Count Committee,’ they kind of grew organically and I think that took the pressure off. We’ve got to be proud of our region.”

If you go

WHAT — 2020 U.S. Census Forum

WHEN — Monday, 6-7 p.m. Doors open at 5:15.

WHERE — McAllen Convention Center, 700 Convention Center Blvd.

WHO — Timothy Olson, associate director of field operations with the U.S. Census Bureau, along with Valley panelists.

COST — Free