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Top Story No. 4: Hall Countys population boom
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Do you feel like you may have a little less elbow room than last year? Does it seem like there is more traffic on the roads and people in the stores?

It's not your imagination. Hall County is growing.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported earlier this year that Hall County surpassed the 170,000 mark in population in 2006.

The Bureau's most recent count of Hall County population is 173,256 as of July 1, 2006; those figures were released in March 2007. The increase marks about a 4 percent increase over 2005, or some 7,000 more people moving into the county.

That ranks Hall 17th among Georgia counties in population percentage gains since the 2000 Census, which noted the county had 139,315 residents. In overall population, Hall ranks 11th in the state, just behind Henry County, which had a little more than 5,000 more people as of the July 1, 2006, count.

Georgia's population was 9.3 million. The Census Bureau announced last week that Georgia had grown to 9.5 million as of July 2007.

But Frank Norton Jr., who owns a Gainesville-based realty and insurance firm, estimates in his company's annual Native Intelligence database that the county's population is closer to some 208,193 residents. He claims the 2006 estimate by the Census Bureau missed some 27,000 Latinos.

He says a more accurate count of the population, and one that retail businesses like grocery stores use, is to count rooftops. His company's annual report uses information from such sources as housing permits, schools and industries.

County figures have not been released from the July 1, 2007, count. Those figures will not be announced until early in 2008. But if the trend since 2000 holds true, Hall will find it has added another few thousand residents in 2007, too.

Since 2000, the annual county estimates have Hall County adding some 4,000 to 7,000 people each year.

The bureau's annual county estimates factor in the 2000 Census and data on migration, births and deaths. They are reported for July through June the previous year.