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Some in Pa. to get help with utility bills

August 02, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Relief from the heat wave will come in the form of lower temperatures this week and, for some qualified Franklin County residents, with help paying their electric bills.

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With July temperatures breaking records that have stood more than 40 years, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced Friday the federal government is releasing $12.9 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for the state, including almost $102,000 to lower energy bills for Franklin County senior citizens and those with health problems that require air conditioning - the groups most at risk.

High temperatures for July in the nearby Harrisburg, Pa., area have been 7.7 degrees above normal, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Rob Radzanowski. Franklin County figures were unavailable Sunday.

The average high temperature has been 93.5 degrees, he said.

Radzanowski said the average daily temperature has been 81.9 degrees, breaking the 1955 record of 80.4 degrees, as temperatures have remained high into the night.

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Most of the state remains under a drought emergency declared July 22, and the county is under an open burning ban declared by the Board of Commissioners last Thursday.

"It looks like we're going to get a little break this week," Radzanowski said. Temperatures through much of Pennsylvania are expected to be in the 80s, or near normal, for the next five to 10 days.

While temperatures decline, many senior citizens may expect to see higher electric bills after having to run air conditioners and fans more than they normally would. On a first-come, first-served basis, some will be able to get rebates through the county's Area Agency on Aging.

To be eligible, a person must be 65 years of age or older, have a mental or physical impairment for which they receive disability payments or assistance, or have a health condition such as asthma for which a physician advises they have air conditioning.

As part of the Emergency Cooling Project, extra staff and volunteers will be on hand today through Friday at the Franklin County Area Agency on Aging, 218 N. Second St., Chambersburg, and the Waynesboro Senior Activity Center, 912 S. Potomac St.

Applications for assistance will be accepted up to Sept. 30, according to the Area Agency on Aging. For more information, call the Area Agency on Aging at 717-263-2153, or 1-800-642-6990.

Those who apply must present proof of income, and those with medical conditions requiring air conditioning must have a note from a doctor indicating the need.

An electric bill must be presented in order to be paid.

The Associated Press reported 144 heat-related deaths across the country as of Saturday.

Franklin County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said Sunday there had been no heat-related deaths in the county.

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