By Michael Heins
Havre's census takers work hard to reach out to the people and enjoy working with the community to make sure everyone is counted for Census 2000, some of the workers said.
Three local census takers shared their views of what they felt about their task of going out and getting people counted in our area for the census.
"I did it for the money at first," Jackee Morse said. "Most people are very nice about the census. There are very few negative responses."
Some of the challenges Morse said she faces is telling people that the information is confidential.
"Some people want to be helpful by helping with directions, but I can not allow them to see the census map because of confidentiality," she said. "Some people ask for information to be helpful, but we can't give out any information because of the Privacy Act, everything is confidential. People need to know that we are not being rude when I refuse to show them the census map."
Census workers are local people for the most part, Morse said.
"We are normal people like them," she said. "We live in the community. It is a great honor to do this job. I took an oath of office for the Privacy Act to keep this information confidential.
"One of the gratifying things that I get out of this is when they first refuse to fill out the census, but later when they have a better understanding of it, they are willing to fill it out.
"The census takers are very supportive of one another. The census takers have developed a common bond. If someone is having a frustrating day, we can talk it out. We learn from one another."
Census worker Kathie Schwenke became a census taker for something different to do and to earn extra income.
"I enjoy meeting people," Schwenke said. "It is a different way to meet people. You know it's like being a door-to-door salesperson, but no one shuts the door in your face. I enjoy explaining to people why they need to do it. Everyone has a purpose as to whether they want to or don't want to be counted. Some people think the whole thing is bogus, whereas others are very much for it.
"I don't think that people are being educated towards the real reason. Some people think it is all bureaucratic and the government is out to get them." she said.
Schwenke spoke about some of the challenges she faces as a census taker.
"Having to walk up a hill to view around to make sure there were no houses in sight was difficult because I have a fused knee," she said. "It's really hard going up and down."
Schwenke is a good example of the dedication of the census takers to see everyone counted.
"The first day I went out in the snow and I kept with it. We have a so many block area to do," Schwenke said. "When we start a block area we have to finish that area in that day. By the time I finished that area I was soaking wet. I guess it was a challenge keeping the paperwork dry."
"I am a school teacher," she said. "I have a bachelor of arts degree in education and finding out that the state of Montana could have had so much more 10 years ago that could have gone to education or housing was amazing to me and this has given me a drive to explain to people why they need to fill the census out."
Linea Luttrell also spoke about her views and experience being a census taker.
"I applied for the position in July of 1998 and I got called February of this year.
Luttrell had a real sense of enthusiasm about her job as a census taker.
"I enjoy mine because I enjoy being in the country and meeting farmers; they are probably the hardest people to get counted," she said. "I want to make sure they get counted, so they can get the assistance from the agricultural department."
Some of the challenges she spoke about were mud, snow and locked gates.
"I had only one major problem with a locked gate and that was taken care of," she said. "I really enjoy it tremendously, the people are all wonderful that I talk to."