"Everyone must be counted, " was the theme of a kick-off meeting for the taking of the population census of Schuylkill County held at the Schuylkill County courthouse Tuesday.

The meeting opened with all three Schuylkill County Commissioners, Mantura Gallagher, Francis McAndrew and Frank Staudenmeier, speaking of the importance of every one being county as related to county finances for the next 10 years. If the county's population sinks below the 145,000 mark then the county will moved from being a Fourth Class County to a Fifth Class County and the loss of federal and state funds can be enormous.

The commissioners had appointed a 2010 Census-Complete Count Committee and many attended the meeting.

Named to the committee were, Congressman Tim Holden, State Senator David G. Argall, all three state representatives, Neal Goodman, Jerry Knowles and Tim Seip; Robert S. Carl Jr., of Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce; Joanne Panulis, Visions; Dr. Diane Neiderriter, Schuylkill IU; Dave Crouse, Southern Schuylkill Council of Governments; Marybeth Dougherty, Northern Schuylkill Council of Goverment; Judith DiObida, Schuylkill Planning Commission; Jill Oakley Svenson, Service Access Management Inc. (SAM); Eileen Barlow, Elderly Assisted Living Nursing Homes; Jonathan Dov, Schuylkill Community Action; Thomas F. Hale, Schuylkill Housing Authorituy; Christian Morrison, Schuylkill County Boroughs Association; Clyde "Cham" Holman, Schuylkill County Township Officials Association; Tom Palamar, City of Pottsville; and Kelly K. Malone, Schuylkill United Way.

Each addressed household in Schuylkill County in the near future will receive a letter with 10 questions to be filled out and returned to the census bureau. It was urged at the meeting that everyone should make an effort to fill out this form because the county's population has been dwindling. The last estimate announced in 2008 showed the population was down to 147,254 residents. In 2000 the population was 150,336.

One of the areas where the financial blow would be felt by everyone would be in reduction of liquid fuel money which is used to fix roads and bridges. It is based chiefly on population plus road mileage.

Plans are to establish 20 sites throughout the county, all manned by census employees, to help anyone who needs assistance in filling out the forms sent out. The committee urges every effort be made to fill them out. Everything is confidential although no personal information is sought in the applications only the number of people living at each address. The questionnaire does ask your age, sex and race.

Make sure everyone is counted is the goal of the committee.