Big Country

Sweetwater mayor disputes U.S. Census report that says Sweetwater population is decreasing

Some areas of the Big Country dispute falling population numbers

SWEETWATER, Texas - The latest U.S. Census Bureau data shows the populations of rural counties across the state are decreasing.

The mayor of one of those counties said the numbers do not reflect reality.

"To think we've gone down since 2010 is really absurd. I mean there's so much activity in this region. Every community out here is growing substantially," said Greg Wortham, mayor of Sweetwater.

Wortham was shocked to hear the news. Out of 21 Big Country counties, new census reports say the majority have decreased in population since 2010.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Nolan County has decreased by 221 people, but Sweetwater residents say that can't be true.

"It seems like we have more traffic in town," said Carol Gotcher.

"Stores in the morning are busier. Restaurants in general. You see a lot more trucks especially company trucks. So if you ask me it's grown quite a bit," Kenn Eththerney said.

Wortham said he does not completely trust the census.

"The Census Bureau has some national model that says what was happening decades ago saying that people move from small towns to big cities because there are no opportunities and all the standard lines. Well those aren't true anymore," Wortham said. "No one is out counting people. It's just someone who pushed a button in Washington."

Land has been cleared, a new rail park is underway, and businesses have been booming. He said the census report is not only incorrect, it could affect their region in a major way.

"It affects money the communities get. It affects how we're treated in certain standards by State or Federal government by having totally inaccurate information," Wortham said.

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