From the Mayor 05/25/16

Reprinted with Permission from the Independence Daily Reporter

I’ve decided to use this opportunity to address some of the rumors I’ve heard floating around town. Here are a few that I’ve heard in recent days:
(1) Elvis is alive and well and living in Cincinnati.
(2) Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch) is alive and well and living in McPherson.
(3) Everyone is leaving Independence and it will soon be a ghost town.

The first two rumors are beyond the scope of my research, as they may have some shred of truth to them. But I would like to address that third rumor. Where is the person who made that statement getting his facts? Does he even have facts?

One of my favorite fictional characters is Sherlock Holmes. I like him because he’s the ultimate rational being (along with Mr. Spock, of course). One of my favorite Holmes sayings is, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly, one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” 

So let’s make like Sherlock, and check out the facts. Is there any truth to the statement that “everyone” is leaving Independence? 
The U.S. Government is the only entity that actually counts everyone in town when they take the census every ten years. The last count was done in 2010, and the next one will not take place until 2020. How can we determine what is happening to our population in the years when there is no census? 

It’s generally accepted that the best ways to estimate population trends are by reviewing the number of utility customers, or by examining the public schools’ enrollment, so let’s do both.

In April 2012, the city had 4,336 water customers. In April 2016, there were 4,263 water customers. So this indicator shows a drop of 73 customers over the last four years, or a reduction of 1.7 percent. A four-year decrease of 1.7 percent translates to an annual decrease of less than one-half of 1 percent per year. While this does show a decrease, it’s very modest compared to most small towns in America.
How about the other best indicator? According to officials at our local USD 446, the number of students during the 2005/2006 school year was 1,954. The number of students during the 2015/2016 school year was 2,149. This is a 10% increase over the last 10-year period. Of course, this is not proof that our population has increased, as the increase in the number of students could be caused by several factors: families having more children, fewer students choosing parochial schools, less home schooling, etc. But it’s considered one of the best indicators of population trends. 

While Mark Twain was visiting England in 1897, a rumor started back in the states that he had died. His classic response was, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” 

Based on these facts, perhaps we can borrow Twain’s words to say that reports of Independence’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

So if you feel like spreading rumors this week, based on our USD enrollment might I suggest, “Everyone is moving to Independence and we’ll soon be a boom town.”  

Or if you don’t like that one, how about sticking with your old reliable, a Sasquatch sighting?

Mayor Gary Hogsett