LEE CO., GA (WALB) - In just the first day of sign-ups, about one thousand people in Dougherty and Lee County got on the list for financial help with their heating bills. Tens of thousands of Georgians are hoping to get the aid, in fact, many are counting on it.
Minnie James lives simply in the same county she was born in 84 years ago. "I was born and raised in Lee County, everybody knows me."
And Ms. James says many of her friends and family count on financial help for winter heating bills. "I really appreciate it because sometime it be really cold and you got to let that gas run to keep the house warm."
On Tuesday, phones at the Dougherty Neighborhood Service Center rang non-stop, as state employees took information from people asking for financial assistance for the winter heating bill.
Last year, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program paid $3 million in heating bills for Southwest Georgia residents. "I get the gas in the wintertime and so I called the lady yesterday."
Ms. James expects to be approved for the financial help again this season. "Ever since they began it and I can't remember what year it was but we've been getting it ever since."
And the widow who lost her only son, Gilbert James, in a tragic shooting in 1998, and also lost a daughter to a debilitating muscle disease, doesn't have many people to call on when the bills get too tight.
She is grateful. "Oh yes I am, because you know gas is really high!"
Of the roughly $3 million allotted for residents in 14 Southwest Georgia counties, about one million dollars is for Dougherty and Lee County residents who qualify.
Every county in Georgia is taking part in the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which opened Tuesday for applicants and is administered by DFACS.
To apply, you need to contact by phone ONLY your county's community action agency. For Dougherty County it is 229-883-1365. For Lee County it is 229-759-2089.
If you don't know your county's number, you can call one of the above numbers and someone will help get you to the right place.