Help on the way for cooling costs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2000

VIDALIA, La. — As summer temperatures have risen, so has Dorethea Book’s electric bill.

And since 74-year-old Book and her daughter, who both live in a house trailer on Moose Lodge Road, have health problems that make it difficult to work, their fixed income makes paying the rising electric bill a challenge. &uot;Our bill was $260 for June, and I&160;haven’t even gotten July’s yet,&uot;&160;Book said, admitting her trailer’s poor insulation does not help conserve energy. &uot;I wish there was a way for us to get some help.&uot;

That help may be on the way, since Louisiana may receive more than $4.2 million by the end of next week to help needy families stay cool during this summer’s heat wave, said Jennifer Ledbetter, public information officer for the state’s Department of Social Services.

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In Adams County, the Department of Human Services office may not be able to spend its share of the more than $2.8 million Mississippi will receive until the end of August, said office Director Lamar Braxton.

On Tuesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala announced that department would release $35 million in emergency energy assistance funds to eight Southern states. The funds can be used to buy air conditioners and fans or to help pay electric bills. Those who may be eligible for the program include the working poor, the elderly, people with disabilities and families with children under 18.

Louisiana will receive $4,215,913 from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program but will not receive those funds until next week.

Still, Ledbetter said those with questions about eligibility for the program can call the Department of Social Services in Baton Rouge at (225) 342-2288 before that date.

Needed contract changes between the federal government and Mississippi’s DHS may mean the office in Adams County will not get funds from the program for 30 days, Braxton said.

And of the $2,812,167 Mississippi is expected to receive, Braxton still does not know how much money his office will be granted.

When that office gets more information about the amount of funds it will receive, it will issue a public service announcement letting people know how and when to apply, Braxton said.

That office serves Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Claiborne, Copiah, Lawrence and Lincoln counties.

Other Southern states receiving funding include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.