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Overnight Lines Common At Heating Assistance Sites | News

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Overnight Lines Common At Heating Assistance Sites
News

Overnight lines aren't uncommon at Bibb County sites where money is being handed out to people who need assistance with their heating bills.

While some agencies make telephone appointments for their heat-assistant clients, officials with the Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council say they'll stick with their in-person appointment.

Lucretia Harden of Macon arrived at St. Paul AME Church at 8:30 Tuesday night in hopes of being one of the first 250 people in line to receive heating assistance.

Despite the rain and lack of facilities, she stayed through Wednesday morning when the EOC opened its doors for applicants.

"I think it would be better, you know, if we didn't have to stand out in the rain, especially when it rains," Harden said. "It would be better for people to come in (if they) need a restroom, use the restroom."

Officials with other agencies, like Middle Georgia Community Action, which serves Houston and several other counties, say it's unhealthy and unsafe to make clients camp out for heating help.

But Macon-Bibb EOC director Jimmie Samuel said the in-person system works best for his agency.

"How another agency does it is really up to them," Samuel said. "They can make appointments, and I hope it works for them. But for us, we experimented over the years. This works the best for us, and I think it works the best for other folks."

Macon Councilman Lonnie Miley serves as chairman of the EOC board of directors. Miley said Macon-Bibb handles more people than many rural counties which makes it harder to handle phone-in applications.

"Under their agencies, their counties may handle it differently, depending on which county is dealing with the energy assistance program. Macon-Bibb EOC is one of the metropolitan agents, community action agents, we have a lot more people to serve," Miley said.

Carlotta Blash of Macon also stood in line this week, and she didn't get assistance. But she remembers when Macon-Bibb used to make appointments by phone.

"I think that they ought to go back to the old way they used to do it," Blash said.

Robin Doster, deputy director of the Middle Georgia Community Action Center in Warner Robins said they make telephone appointments for people seeking help in paying their heating bills.

Doster said her agency handles aid for Houston and several other counties.

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