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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

KY Group Helps Take Chill Out of Home Heating

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012   

FRANKFORT, Ky. - With blustery winter cold blasting the bluegrass, a statewide social service agency wants to blunt the chill of home heating costs for low-income families in financial crisis.

Rob Jones, executive director of Community Action Kentucky, says Kentuckians who are facing utility disconnection or running low on heating fuel can apply for relief through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

"What we're looking for specifically is qualified families that are in imminent danger of losing heat, either because it will be shut if they have gas or electric and the bills aren't paid or there's proof they're going to run out of that heating source."

Michael Moynahan, Community Action's energy program director, says the crisis component of LIHEAP has run through March in the past, but with a nearly 23 percent reduction in federal dollars from last year, funds are likely to be tapped before then.

"It's not an increase from last year. We're still going to receive less money this year for LIHEAP than we did last year. But, it's an increase in what we thought."

Congress has awarded $44 million to Kentucky to run the LIHEAP program. Last year, says Moynahan, Kentucky spent $57 million in energy-assistance benefits. The program helps struggling households threatened with utility shutoff and with vouchers for bulk fuels such as propane, wood, kerosene and coal.

"We just want everybody to know that it is there. If they have a disconnect notice or they're within four days of running out of a bulk fuel, they go to their nearest Community Action office and apply. "

The crisis component of the federally funded LIHEAP program begins today and operates until funds are exhausted. Applicants must be at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level - just over $2,300 for a family of four - and meet other criteria.

More information about eligibility is available online at communityaction.org or by calling toll-free 1-800-456-3452.


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