A hearty Saturday Salute goes to all the people who have signed up to work as census takers in Hall County.

This is a big job that is very important to local government bodies and agencies and nonprofits that receive government funding. It’s extremely important that the 2020 Census get an accurate count of the county’s population and the census takers will be out going door to door, making sure people who don’t immediately return their 2020 Census forms are counted.

David Drozd, research coordinator at the Nebraska State Data Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said this week that the Hall County Census effort has been very well organized and has surpassed its goal for signing up census takers.

The first Census forms will be mailed out in mid-March. Grand Island is a multi-ethnic community. Some folks may be recent immigrants and do not speak English and those individuals will either get a bilingual postcard or a form to fill out their Census information.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted every 10 years. Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and inform how state, local and federal lawmakers will allocate billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities every year for the next 10 years.

“It helps get federal dollars back to the local area, whether it is for roads or other governmental programs, such housing or redevelopment,” Drozd said.

Hall County is already well prepared, but other area counties are behind in their recruitment efforts. The only other area county to reach its goal is Loup County.

We salute those people who will be working as census takers and urge people throughout Central Nebraska to consider this opportunity to make some extra money, as well as help with the census. The workers will be well paid. In the Grand Island area, census takers will be paid $17.50 per hour.

Airport business is booming

We also salute the Central Nebraska Regional Airport, which set an all-time record for passengers in 2019 of 71,207.

The airport finished 2019 with a robust annual growth rate of 12% over 2018 and served more than 142,000 total passengers.

Along with the American Airline flights to Dallas and the Allegiant flights to Mesa, Ariz., and Las Vegas, Nev., the airport also had a record number of charter flights, including the Hero Flights that took Hall County veterans to Washington, D.C. Other charter flights included visits to popular vacation locales in Mexico.

Another contributing factor was there were 18% more seats available on the American Airlines and Allegiant flights to and from Grand Island with additional flights available during the week.

The growth of CNRA has also contributed to the economic progress of Grand Island’s and the area economy as business travelers can now have direct flights to the community from around the world.

For 2020, both America Airlines and Allegiant have cut back on the amount of flights from Grand Island compared to last year. But starting next month, Allegiant will have three flights a week from Grand Island to the Phoenix/Mesa area on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

CNRA Executive Director Mike Olson said the airport is working to expand the flight offerings from Grand Island so it can continue to meet the travel needs of the region.

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