Weatherization explanation March 12

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

City and county officials have again taken steps this winter to help residents deal with the cost of heating their homes.

Marshall County commissioners voted last week to appropriate another $4,000 toward a two-for-one federal dollars match through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that pays power bills.

Meanwhile, the Lewisburg Gas Department is hosting a meeting on March 12 to explain to the general public how another federal program will pay contractors to insulate houses so money won't be wasted on fuel to heat and cool homes.

Emily Satterfield of the South Central Human Resources Agency is scheduled to speak about the weatherization program at the gas department offices.

The LIHEAP and weatherization programs are administered by the South Central Human Resources Agency headquartered in Fayetteville that has offices on Old Columbia Road across the street from the Marshall County Highway Department's garage.

"A meeting for Marshall County residents will be held at the Lewisburg Gas Department to educate families on the Weatherization Assistance Program that enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient at no cost to them," Gas Department spokesman Craig Blackwell said.

The meeting will be in the community room at the Lewisburg Gas Department office building at 505 North Ellington Parkway at 5:30 p.m. Thursday next week.

"Landlords who own rental property also have the opportunity to help their renters by allowing occupants to apply for this program with no cost to the home owner," Blackwell said, inviting questions at his office phone, (931) 359-4016.

"Realtors have been invited and the Ministerial Association is spreading the word," the utility spokesman said.

The Weatherization Assistance Program and LIHEAP received additional funding from Congress in a bill signed by former President Bush last fall. The federal stimulus program recently enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama also includes funding for the programs.

The Weatherization Assistance Program is seen by U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Murfreesboro) as also creating jobs since contractors will be hired to improve the houses.

Meanwhile, Marshall County is trying to achieve the maximum dollars in the two-for-one matching program for one time payments of some $400, depending on a household's circumstances, according to county officials.

The resolution adopted by commissioners on Feb. 23 notes that $20,729 was the amount set aside for the federal match of dollars raised in the county. However, discussion among commissioners with Cathy Hayes of the South Central Human Resources Agency office in Fayetteville shows that $20,729 amount was pro-rated for Marshall County, one of 13 counties in the agency's service area. If other counties don't reach match their allocation, the balance can be redistributed. That appears possible, according to Hayes' assessment of other counties' activities.

County commissioners appropriated $4,000 in January, so the appropriation approved last week doubles the county's contribution. Together that $8,000 is 77 percent of the $10,364 needed to leverage all of the county's share of federal matching money.

Lewisburg's City Council provided $2,500, but designated it for customers of Lewisburg Electric Service and that utility's Board of Directors has voted to provide $3,454, or a third of the $10,364, for its customers, and added $3,000 per month for each of four months starting in January, also designated for its customers.

The meeting on the Weatherization Assistance Program is the second on these issues to be held at the gas department's community room. Members of the local Ministerial Association gathered on Feb.17 to hear Hayes and Satterfield.