BCMW suffers $400k in funding cuts, could result in utility disconnections

MARION COUNTY — About $400,000 in funding cuts to an energy assistance program could lead to more utility cutoffs in the area, according to the executive director of a local social service agency.

BCMW Executive Director Sue Castleman is reporting that unlike previous years when additional funding was allocated when money ran out, that’s not happening this year, forcing the agency to stop taking applications last week for energy assistance.

According to Castleman, it’s unlikely BCMW — which serves residents in Bond, Clinton, Marion and Washington counties — will have a summer program this year, and the start date for next year’s program is in question.

She says the agency usually starts with September for elderly and disabled households, but that may be put off until October or November, and could end with many people living without utilities.

Utilities disconnections begin April 1, and people relied on BCMW to have service restored, but unfortunately the program is over for this year, due to the loss of funding from both the state and federal levels.

Castleman further worries about a cut in funding from the Project Bread meal sites for senior citizens, noting the program that has sites in Centralia, Kinmundy and Salem is already running on a shoestring. She says the agency has prepared for cuts by increasing the recommended contribution for lunch from $2 to $3 for individuals who can afford to pay.

On a high note, Castleman says the child care assistance program appears safe from any cutbacks.