Hendricks disputes 2020 census results

Photo by Deb Gau The highway sign as vehicles approach the Hendricks city limits states a population of 712. However, the 2020 U.S. Census count stands at 616 —almost a loss of 100 in total population.

HENDRICKS — The United States Census Bureau reported a loss of almost 100 people in Hendricks in the past 10 years, something that’s inspired doubt among city officials.

The city is taking steps to challenge its 2020 census total of 616 people. It represents a decline from 713 people in 2010.

Hendricks was the only community in Lincoln County to report a substantial population decline. Others were stable, as Ivanhoe, Lake Benton and Arco all had small increases. Tyler experienced a drop of only several people.

Hendricks City Administrator David Blees said he’s in the process of finding out what needs to be done for an official challenge to census results.

“It’s a complicated process,” Blees said. “There’s no way to just make a phone call and ask for the instructions. It will take months, maybe more than a year.”

The city’s population has hovered around 700 people for the past 40 years. It grew from 684 people to the 2010 total of 713.

Blees said Hendricks has continued to see strong economic activity in the past decade. There was a multi-million dollar renovation at the city hospital and clinc, as well as a sizable campground upgrade next to Lake Hendricks.

“We’re surprised by the census,” he said. “I can’t help thinking that somehow people got missed. Maybe they undercounted our snowbirds or maybe COVID affected the response level. We’d like to have it double checked.”

He’s especially surprised by a census estimate of 77 vacant houses in Hendricks, a figure that doesn’t seem possible based on his observations.

“That would equal almost a third of the town,” he said. “I can’t imagine it’s that high. I think we’d have noticed and tried to do something about it.”

Instead Hendricks, like most of the region, appears to be seeing limited housing availabilty. Blees reports that houses that come up for sale have tended to sell at favorable prices.

He said no census bureau staff visited the city office in 2020. He did not notice any census takers going door to door.

Hendricks Mayor Julie Hogie, who also serves on the city’s Economic Development Authority board, said she’s satisfied with the overall economic development results in Hendricks during the 2010s decade. She expected a slight population increase in the census.

“People might look at the census report and think we aren’t keeping up with the rest of Lincoln County,” Hogie said. “That’s not the case. We have an active business district and several important amenities.”

She said Lake Hendricks, the Hendricks Golf Club, the K-12 public school and local health care facilities all help to make Hendricks attractive to potential new residents.

She’s willing to invest some city staff time into challenging the census number because of what it could mean in terms of future prospects for economic expansion. Given results from around the Hendricks area, she said the city’s total appears to stand out as something that should be questioned.

“We’d like to at least have it reviewed,” Hogie said. “The numbers don’t seem to add up based on everything we’ve seen. It’s worth our time to find out whether or not it’s accurate.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today