Heating Assistance

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, January 25 2012 at 3:44 PM, Updated: Wed, January 25 2012 at 9:07 PM

Michael Clemens was laid off about 2 months ago.  And on 99 dollars a week unemployment, he's worried about staying warm:  "I'm basically about ready to get my gas shut off, and trying to get help, and I can't get any help from anybody."

   Some help is available through 'ACCESS' in Jackson County, and 'Klamath / Lake Community Action Services' in Klamath County.  Program Manager Rob Petchell explains they've been busy:  "So far in our program year, from October 1st to now, to actually last week, is about 1700 households we've served."

   But federal funding for heating assistance has been cut nearly in half - and the agencies can't help everyone. 

    Clemens is one of those:  "They looked at the papers that I had, asked me some questions, and asked if I had kids - and when I told them 'no', they said they wouldn't give me an appointment or anything."

     While he can't comment on individual cases, Petchell said he'll look into Clemens' claim.   "We are seeing a lot of shutoffs, notices, and crisis, needs for crisis payments.  We've seen a tremendous increase."

     Avista and Pacific Power both say it's important to contact them first if you're having a tough time.  Toby Freeman of Pacific Power says, "Give us a call - we want to have that conversation soon, because the last thing we want to do is disconnect your service."

    And Clemens says he doesn't want that either...  "I think we all just need to help each other - that's the solution."

     People in Klamath Falls can go to:  www.klcas.org  for more information. 

     In Klamath Falls, this is Lyle Ahrens, NBC2 News.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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