Roper: Census still important during crisis

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

COUNTY — County government won’t be immune to the financial hardships causing by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mitigating that impact is another reason why an accurate 2020 Census count is so important to Pickens County.

Acting county administrator Ken Roper discussed the census during his daily Facebook Live update Monday. Roper has been doing daily updates on the platform during the week recently to update residents on the coronavirus and other topics.

An accurate census will help “make sure that we get the fair share that Pickens County deserves for our population from different federal sources, including from the National Strategic Stockpile,” he said.

In recent days, Liberty, Easley and Pickens have led the census responses, Roper said.

Roper urged Norris Mayor Odell Williams and town clerk Ann Clardy to nudge local residents of that town.

“Ann, I want you to start baking cakes and telling people that if they fill out their census questionaire, you’ll give them one of your cakes,” Roper said. “Norris, y’all need to step up and do this.”

During county council’s meeting Monday evening, council chairman Roy Costner asked Roper about the census.

“That has been a big topic,” Costner said. “Now that we’re in the middle of this, and at least everybody’s at home (with) a better opportunity to respond, how is the county doing with regards to the census?”

Roper said he had “some good news.”

“A couple weeks back, we were lagging behind significantly,” Roper said.

But recently, “Pickens County moved above the state average in our census response,” he said.

“We’re now responding as a county above what the average of the state response was,” he said.

Some areas in the county are lagging, though, Roper told council.

“I think if I tell them to you, you’ll know exactly why they’re lagging,” he said. “Central and Clemson are lagging, and they normally lag because of the huge amount of the student population — and the students aren’t there, in many cases.”

Information received from the Census Bureau Monday said “about 1 in 4 are actually in town,” Roper said.

“The rest of them are probably back home,” he said.

County GIS staff is assisting census employees, Roper said.

“We’re going to keep trying to push on that, and keep trying to get a better count, a more complete count, in Central and Clemson,” he said.

While Six Mile, Liberty and parts of Easley, have “really good numbers,” there’s still ground to be gained, Roper said.

“That means that 45 percent of the people have responded,” he said. “That is a challenge. If 45 percent is a good number…we still have more than half that can still respond and help our numbers even more.”

For people self-isolating at home, it’s a great time to go to and respond, Roper said.