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Grant to warm needy

By By Suzanne Digmon Staff writer
Gov. Bob Riley has awarded a $523,022 grant to assist low-income families in five southwest Alabama counties. The grant, made available through LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, will be used to help low-income families and individuals meet the high cost of heat during the winter.
"Without this assistance a number of Alabama's low-income residents, elderly, persons with disabilities and families with small children, would have to endure the winter without heat," Riley said. "In addition, unpaid bills could result in utilities being disconnected for some families leaving them with no way to prepare meals."
The primary purpose of the LIHEAP program is to help households with combined monthly income at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level meet the rising costs of heating and cooling. The funds are distributed to families who qualify for assistance through local community service organizations.
LIHEAP representative for the five counties receiving this grant, Mary Woolard, said that Riley has released the funds and contracts are now in the mail. "We usually get the signed contract around the second week of December," she stated. "The Community Action Agency usually puts out a press release saying that they are accepting applications for heating assistance," she continued.
Applications may be picked up at the Community Action Agency office, located at 8600 Highway 31, Atmore. In addition, applicants must call and schedule an interview with Lois Paul in Brewton at 867-4759 or at 368-4799 on Thursdays.
Riley awarded the grant from funds provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has designated the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to administer the grant. ADECA Director John Harrison notified Cassandra Boykin, executive director of the Community Action Agency of Baldwin, Escambia, Clarke, Monroe and Conecuh counties, that the grant has been approved.