The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 10, 2014

Long, cold winter could prompt more disconnects this spring

Vett Spain, of Joplin, uses both electricity and natural gas to heat her home during the winter.

During extremely cold winter months — and this winter has been among the coldest for the area — it can cost her almost $500 a month to heat her home.

“I tried to cover up the windows with plastic,” she said recently, but she’s still behind by $150 on her heating bills, trying to pay what she can each month to catch up.

Spain said she went to the Salvation Army last month, but the agency was out of funding to help her.

She said she also went to the Economic Security Corp. in December, but it was out of money at the time, too.

Even though the weather has improved this week, with temperatures expected to be in the mid-70s today, the concern is that so many people are now behind on their heating bills that when the state’s Cold Weather Rule is lifted on March 31, more customers than normal will be at risk of seeing their utilities disconnected.

Representatives of Empire District Electric Co. and Laclede Gas Co., which owns Missouri Gas Energy, say they are working with customers who are struggling to pay their bills by directing them to assistance programs, and they are urging customers who are behind on their bills to call them before March 31.

‘A real need’

Lt. James Curry, with the Joplin Salvation Army, said money for the organization’s Emergency Assistance Program generally runs out by the fifth day of each month.

“From the donations, we can budget per month on how much we can give out,” Curry said. “If we just did it all at once, we’d be out by late November. Then we couldn’t help people throughout the rest of the year.”

The program provides aid to families on an emergency basis, including those that need help paying for rent, utilities, clothing or food.

Curry said that last winter, people were bringing in $200 to $300 utility bills.

“This year, it’s $600 and $700,” he said.

“It’s a real need. People are struggling. I’m glad we can help as much as we can, but at the same time ... well, the need is just greater than the resources that are available right now.”

Kathy Lewis, executive director of Crosslines Churches of the Joplin Area, has seen the same thing. The organization receives funding via the United Way and grants to help residents who are behind on rent and utility bills.

“We have definitely been fielding more calls for utility assistance because of the long, cold winter,” Lewis said. “The number of people is definitely up, and so is the dollar amount of the bills.”

Tammy Walker, director of community development with the Economic Security Corp., said there has been an increase this winter in the number of applicants for the ESC’s Energy Assistance Program. The program provides assistance to an applicant once a year to help pay primary fuel source heating bills. The benefit amount is based upon household size, income and the type of fuel used for home heating.

The program runs from October through March. Last year, more than 6,000 applications were processed, Walker said. This winter, that number has grown by about 200, she said.

Walker said the ESC also offers the Energy Crisis Intervention Program, which is primarily used to restore or prevent disconnection of service for at least 30 days. The program is split between winter and summer months. Winter assistance is provided from October through May — if money is available.

Funding for the program ran out in December — earlier than usual, Walker said. The program received a small amount of additional funding a few weeks ago, she said, “but it doesn’t last long.”

“When we have a tough winter like this year, people are really struggling, and there isn’t enough funding to meet the needs that are out there,” she said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Carthage prepares for Marian Days

    The 37th annual Marian Days celebration will start in two weeks, and planning is well under way for the event that will bring tens of thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent to Carthage.

    July 23, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: It’s not Mayberry, but Carthage is close

    When I was a kid, I wanted to live in Mayberry. In a way, I suppose I still want to live in Mayberry, the fictional town featured in the classic Andy Griffith show of the 1960s.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miami council waives fees for barbecue event

    The Miami City Council voted Tuesday to waive $3,750 in usage fees for Miami Elks Lodge No. 1320 for an upcoming barbecue championship at the Miami Fairgrounds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin couple indicted in child porn case

    A federal grand jury indicted a Joplin couple Wednesday for alleged sexual exploitation of a second child in addition to a girl who was the subject of a preceding indictment of the husband for allegedly producing and distributing child pornography.

    July 23, 2014

  • Galena council rescinds landfill decisions

    The Galena City Council voted Wednesday to rescind decisions it made two weeks ago regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 23, 2014

  • Missouri attorney general defends his support of Amendment 1

    With a large cornfield behind him and campaign signs all around, Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster appeared Wednesday at the David Collard farm to tout Amendment 1, an Aug. 5 ballot measure that would make the “right to farm” part of the state constitution.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

Must Read


Have you ever served as a volunteer for your state's conservation department?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter