City residents increase 24 percent

Six of Catawba County's eight municipalities reported positive population growth from the 2010 census.

The city of Conover experienced the largest growth percentage among Catawba County municipalities during a 10-year period. Conover's population increased 24 percent from 2000, when the previous census was conducted.

That increase marks the largest percent change among the county's remaining seven municipalities.

"Our council and staff are pleased," Conover Mayor Lee Moritz Jr. said of the census results. "The census confirms our efforts to efficiently execute city business while maintaining a low tax rate, provide quality everyday services our citizens appreciate, maintain a tidy city and provide a pleasant quality of life to raise a family or grow a business. Our Conover mission statement is to be a 'community of
choice' for our region."

There are about 1,561 more people living in Conover in 2010 than were living in the city 10 years ago. But Conover's growth doesn't mean city leaders will forget the city's hometown feel.

"Conover City Council will continue to be progressive while remembering our city's long heritage," Moritz said.

Claremont gained 214 residents from 2000 to 2010, which means the city's population increased by about 19 percent, according to Claremont city manager Doug Barrick. Claremont's population increase was the second highest growth percentage reported in Catawba County.

For Barrick, the reported growth wasn't surprising.

"I always had thought that our population estimates from the state was low," Barrick said. " ... This census put us back in line."

Barrick said city subdivisions were added since the last population count in 2000, and state counts taken in between census counts most likely didn't take those additional residents into consideration.

The 2000 census reported 1,138 people living in Claremont. The population increased more than 200 people to 1,352 residents in 2010.

Barrick said he and Claremont City Council members were pleased with census results because the increase could affect how much funding the city receives in the future. Certain city funds, like the Powell Bill fund and sales tax, are affected by population counts.

Although nothing is certain, Barrick estimates the population increase could bring a "fairly good chunk" of money to Claremont in the future.

The town of Maiden experienced the lowest growth percentage in the county's municipality populations, with about 33 people added to the town's residents.

That represents a growth of about 1 percent.

"I was surprised by the numbers," said Maiden town manager Todd Herms.

"I thought it would have been much higher."

As Maiden and its economy continues to grow, Herms said he hopes to see the town's population increase.

"If more jobs come to Maiden and fuel costs continue to rise, at some point it doesn't make economical sense to commute long distances," Herms said.

Newton and Hickory also experienced positive increases in population from 2000 to 2010, with increases of 3 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

Catawba and Brookford were the only two municipalities in Catawba County to lose residents in the census count. Catawba lost about 14 percent of its population, while Brookford lost about 12 percent.