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Missouri village of Plato is the center of the nation's population

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 5, 2011 - The village of Plato, Mo.,  in Texas County, will be holding a celebration next Monday in honor of its selection as the "2010 Census Center of Population."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Plato represents "the mean center of population ... the point at which an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all 308.7 million residents are counted where they live and all weigh exactly the same."

Plato -- with a population of 109 -- plans to celebrate with "music, food, remarks and the unveiling of a commemorative survey mark," the bureau says.

On hand will be U.S. Census Bureau director Robert M. Groves and Juliana Blackwell, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Geodetic Survey. The two will join village chairman Bob Biram and Texas County Presiding Commissioner Fred Stenger.

For those in the vicinity, the public ceremony will be held next to the village's post office.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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