Secretary of State's Oct. 12 proclamation

Pictured from left: Nelsonville City Auditor Taylor Sappington, Nelsonville utilities and public services official Jason Coen, Nelsonville Fire Chief Harry Barber, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Nelsonville City Manager Scott Frank stand with LaRose’s Oct. 12 proclamation.

Nelsonville will officially remain a city, after an Oct. 12 proclamation by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose certified the results of a 2020 census recount that put Nelsonville’s population at 5,373.

After the original census count showed Nelsonville’s population at only 4,612 – below the threshold of 5,000 needed to qualify for city status – LaRose issued a Sept. 21 proclamation announcing Nelsonville would transition to become a village. The news prompted an immediate response from the city due to concern over possible changes to grant eligibility, other funding streams and city governance.

Within a matter of days, City Auditor Taylor Sappington organized a volunteer effort with five city-appointed enumerators; Cory Taylor, Justin Booth, Kevin Dotson, Mallory Swaim and Rebecca Barber.

Enumerators and other volunteers covered almost every street in Nelsonville between Oct. 2 and Oct. 10, ultimately counting 461 more people than the 2020 census. Athens County’s census response rate is estimated at 62.5%.

Nelsonville delivered the results to LaRose on Oct. 12, and he issued his proclamation certifying the results the same day.

“We are absolutely thrilled. We did not expect such quick turn-around, but… we made it really easy for anyone to look through the documents and understand what happened, how we got the number we got to, and also, of course, the names and addresses,” Sappington said. “We’re grateful to [LaRose’s office] and grateful to the hundreds of people... who assisted us and assisted in making their community a better place by getting a fair count.”

Dani Kington is assistant editor of The Athens News.

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