The hour is quite late so I’m deviating from my normal style of posting because I am so disturbed by what I heard on the news as I walked past the television that I am unable to rest. I realized after hearing the story on WGME 13, a CBS affiliate station covering Maine, that I live in a state where the very agencies created to help those in need often turn a blind eye ~for months. While this story may not be a graphic murder scene or the never-ending election debates, it nonetheless is truly unconscionable especially now, in the season of giving, kindness and faith.
The cover photo for this post is one of the first things one sees upon entering the state. Similar signs dot the major highways as well as secondary roads. I even photographed a weather worn sign on the Appalachian Trail in 2015.
I think the meaning behind the slogan is that life in Maine is perfect and perhaps to some it is. I personally find it less than ideal and honestly cannot wait to leave. The state and I have, shall I say, a mutual dislike for each other. I’ve grown weary of the never-ending sound of gunfire, of chasing hunters off my clearly marked property every year, of picking up empty beer cans, burned out firecrackers and an occasional condom from my private river area. Tired of making a doctor’s appointment only to be scheduled 4-7 months out. I’m done.
And what news report cold have angered me so much you wonder? Ir was a story of two women actually. One is a victim and the other the CEO of KVCAP a non-profit organization that helps “hundreds of thousands of residents overcome the challenges of poverty”.
On your left is Peggy Lane, a homeowner in Central Maine who has been without heat since the beginning of November because her furnace broke and she doesn’t have the money to get a new one. Peggy has been living in extreme cold along with her small dog and her cat. Tonight the temperature is well below zero and the coldest on record for this part of December in 27 years. Peggy and her faithful companions have been making do with a small space heater and many layers of clothing and coats. On the left is Suzanne Walsh .CEO of KVCAP. Her organization is aware of Peggy’s dire situation but recently advised Peggy that they have to put her repair out for bid first. before they can help her due to federal regulations bah blah blah.
In desperation Peggy reached out to WGME’s I Team and today reporter Jon Crisos visited her. Here is the story:
“I’m just so cold” — woman without heat for weeks turns to I-Team for help
Friday, December 16th 2016
WEST GARDINER (WGME) — On this coldest day of the season, a West Gardiner woman doesn’t have any heat. Peggy Lane has been living in the cold in her home for more than a month now and it’s all because of a fight over her boiler. “It’s been a nightmare, it’s just been a complete nightmare,” Lane said. As the wind whips outside, frost covers the windows of her home. “I’m really cold, and I’m miserable, but I’m just trying to get through this the best I can because I know people have it worse than I do,” Lane said. She said she hasn’t had any heat since early November when her boiler cracked and leaked all over the basement. Since then she’s been trying to get low-income assistance to replace it. “Obviously I do not have the money or I would put the boiler in,” Lane said.
She got a letter Thursday from KVCAP, which administers federal funding, telling her they could help, but would have to put the project out to bid.
“I’m just so cold. People shouldn’t live like this; it’s not right,” she said.
Lane called the CBS 13 On Your Side I-Team to see if we could help.
We asked KVCAP if there’s a process for emergency heating assistance.
KVCAP CEO Suzanne Walsh called back to explain based on funding rules, they’re required to get the lowest price for every project.
“We have to operate under very strict guidelines because we’re ambassadors of federal funds,” Walsh said. However, after talking with Maine Housing, she said they’ll now work to expedite the bid process and get the boiler replaced.
“We definitely want to work the homeowner and make sure she is warm and safe,” Walsh said. KVCAP also told us they’d send over some larger space heaters and would start getting bids Friday.
If you need heat help, Maine Housing suggests you apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
As of Friday, we’re told 32,700 applications have been processed in Maine and the average benefit so far this heating season is $732.
This is truly one of the saddest stories I have heard in many a year. It’s also inexcusable.