Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

August 5, 2013

This census worker the real deal

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — There’s no reason to be afraid, any rumors are likely untrue, this person identifying herself as a U.S. Census Bureau employee working on survey information is the real deal.

It was just last month when a series of wild stories about child abduction and even human trafficking in Garvin County exploded onto the social media scene.

Those stories centered around people going door-to-door throughout the county and the suspicions some posted about them on Facebook pages.

As it turns out there were two women — one selling books and another collecting information for a census survey — and both were just what they claimed to be.

One of those ladies happens to live right here in Pauls Valley. She also serves as the chairperson of the Garvin County Democratic Party.

For her work Kimberly Eaton spends most of her time going door-to-door for the Census Bureau.

These days she presents residents with the American Community Survey (ACS), an ongoing survey of the Census Bureau.

Eaton is clearly hoping to avoid a repeat of last month when it comes to the many things posted about her on Facebook, including a few threatening comments.

“I want to let the public know that these surveys are actually going on in Garvin County and Pauls Valley,” Eaton said.

“I am required to have an ID badge with me and to show that badge to them,” she said. “This is legit, a mandatory survey with the Census Bureau.

“We conduct the survey throughout each month. It’s an ongoing thing and not just every 10 years.

“I never had an issue with this before. I never had a problem until that Facebook issue started up.”

Eaton has worked for the Census Bureau since 2009. For the past couple of years she’s been going door-to-door in mostly Garvin County with what’s called an American Community Survey.

This survey provides data every year — giving communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Information from the survey generates data that helps determine how federal and state funds are distributed each year.

It was back in mid-July when Facebook postings began piling up over suspicions over a person going to Garvin County area homes selling books.

Then came another about a woman claiming to be a census worker. That woman was Eaton.

She said the postings didn’t name her but did describe her and the vehicle she was driving.

Some also claimed she was going door-to-door “scouting for human trafficking.”

Eaton, who has a background in law enforcement, believes it could have been the suspicions of a single person in the county who actually got the wild accusations going.

“There were ugly statements made against me, threatening me if I showed up,” Eaton said.

“It just got out of control. I had people calling me from my church worried about my safety,” she said, adding her church is Bethlehem Baptist right here in PV.

“I understand people being up in arms. I just don’t want to be attacked because they saw something silly on Facebook.”

All of the online chatter even led to what Eaton called an “incident” in PV due to the Facebook postings.

It involved a young women at a local residence who expressed reservations about someone coming to the door.

“She didn’t believe what I was telling her,” Eaton said. “She said she believed Facebook.”

When Eaton first learned of the online rumors she reported it to her supervisor and later approached Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes.

Any residents who would like to verify that a phone call or visit from a census worker is legitimate, call the regional office in Denver, Colo., at 1-800-852-6159.

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