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Hagerstown officials consider using utility relief money to help residents with cooling bills

August 04, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown city officials are considering whether to redirect a portion of the proceeds that were raised from a charity concert last December in an effort to help needy residents pay their cooling bills for the remainder of the summer.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said about $18,000 is left over from the $21,000 that was raised Dec. 20 during the Utility Relief Benefit Concert at The Maryland Theatre. Although the proceeds from the concert were earmarked to help low-income residents pay their heating bills, officials could extend the program to help provide cooling assistance as well, he said.

Bruchey said he wants to have a meeting to get the process started as soon as possible and might consider increasing the program to include all utilities.

"That $18,000 is worth absolutely nothing if people are getting their lights turned off because they can't afford to pay their bills," he said.

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Officials didn't think they would have such a difficult time getting rid of the money, said David Jordan, executive director of the Washington County Community Action Council, the organization responsible for distributing the proceeds.

Jordan said individuals or families who meet the criteria can receive up to $200 from the program. A family of four, for example, has to have an annual income in the range of $37,100 and $47,700 or earn less than that to qualify.

People can apply at any time, but they'll only be considered for heating assistance until the money is averted to encompass other utilities, Jordan said.

To learn more, call the Washington County Community Action Council at 301-797-4161, or stop by the office at 101 Summit Ave. in Hagerstown.

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