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CRI Asks For County Money

By Staff | Dec 10, 2008

Community Resources Inc. submitted a letter to the Wetzel County Commission Tuesday requesting financial support in the amount of $20,000 during the next fiscal year.

The request came on the heels of a presentation by Teresa Shepard, community service director, and Heather McAbee, regional manager. The two outlined that the agency is dedicated to assisting Wetzel County residents that are in need. In the year 2008, there have been a total of 320 customers within the Wetzel County area that have received services, making a strong continuing presence of CRI in the community.

The agency has provided services in the areas of emergency utility and energy assistance, weatherization, and emergency necessities. It also has been able to provide employment and general education, as well as free income tax preparation, often helping people obtain the earned income tax credit.

Based on President-elect Obama’s new energy plan, Shepard said they anticipate the weatherization funding to double next year. Not only will that help more local homes become more efficient and save home owners money, but she anticipates that they will need to hire some more qualified people to do the weatherization work.

“Provide employment in the community is just another way that CRI assists Wetzel County residents,” said Shepard. “With the unemployment rate in this county of more than eight percent, utilizing available workers is essential to the Weatherization Program, as well as to strengthening the community.”

Employment applications for the Weatherization Assistance Program crews can be obtained through the local CRI office, 128 Main St., New Martinsville.

CRI’s Weatherization Assistance Program is offered in partnership with the Department of Energy to help increase energy efficiency to homes. Weatherization can provide nearly a $3 savings for every dollar invested in weatherization completion.

“Over a period of time, this can add up to hundreds of dollars in annual savings for recipients of this valuable service,” said Shepard. “Qualified individuals and families receive this assistance at no cost.”

Energy and heating costs continue to rise and residents of the entire state of West Virginia are feeling the effects of these increases. Within CRI’s service area, there has been a steady increase in the need for community services and CRI has expended efforts to meet those needs.

In fact, in 2008 a total of 25 homes have received weatherization services. That is the highest number of weatherization projects in all of the 11 counties in the local CRI service area. “Our weatherization kick off really helped,” noted McAbee in CRI’s effort to spread the message about the program.

Nearly 5.5 million low-income houses have received weatherization services since 1976. However, there are more than 28 million homes that remain eligible for this service.

“The number of homes assisted in Wetzel County shows that there is a great need for weatherization service here,” said Shepard.

CRI also assists low-income families and individuals with other emergency programs, such as the Energy Crisis Intervention Program, which assists families with homes lacking functional heating and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, which helps families pay heating bills. CRI area service specialists can assist individuals with these programs and can often identify other services which may be helpful.

“We do expected dramatic increases in heating expenses this winter,” said Shepard.

For that very reason, Gov. Joe Manchin recently announced a Supplemental Regular Low Income Energy Assistance Program payment for West Virginia’s elderly, disabled, and low-income families who received a regular LIEAP payment for the current winter heating season. This assistance, noted Shepard, will give an automatic $200 payment to recipient’s home heating accounts. They are expected to be issued in mid- to late-January.To apply for heating assistance, local residents need to take proof of income and a bill from their main heating source to the CRI office. The office staff will help them determine eligibility and fill out any needed paperwork.

In another matter at Tuesday’s commission meeting, holiday hours were announced. The courthouse will be closed at noon Dec. 24 and remain closed through Dec. 27. The offices will also close at noon Dec. 31 and remain closed through Jan. 1.