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Posted: Thursday, January 23rd 2014 at 10:57pm

Dawson Co. firewood program aids the elderly

By Bryan Pirkle Staff
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DAWSONVILLE - The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office is spreading the word about a program run by the department that delivers firewood to eligible senior citizens that live in the county.

The program in its current form focuses on delivering firewood, already cut and split, to Dawson County seniors who either cannot afford to purchase wood or are physically unable to cut and haul their own, and whose primary source of heat is a fireplace or wood-burning stove.

Established in 2000, the Firewood Program is a joint effort between the Sheriff’s Office and the Dawson County Senior Center that, between January and December 2012, provided 111 loads of firewood to qualified senior citizens, according to Sheriff’s Major Tony Wooten.

“We give out over about a hundred loads a year to seniors that work with the Senior Center to get on the list, and then we take it out and deliver it to them,” he said.

Wooten said the inspiration for the program stems in part from an incident a few years ago that saw severe winter weather prevent the Senior Center from operating as it normally would.

“They do the Meals on Wheels for the seniors; there were a couple of days they weren’t able to get the meals…We actually used School Resource Officers when school was out, and other member of the department, [and] basically took the meals in 4-wheel-drive vehicles to the seniors,” he said.

That initiative, combined with a Sheriff’s Office program “where basically you would use inmate labor, when trees fell and they had to be cut out of the road, the inmates cut them up and bring [sic] them to the jail where they’d be split,” quickly developed into a county-wide program with the goal of assisting local seniors.

In order to qualify for the program, an individual’s income must fall within certain guidelines that are based on household size; if these qualifications are met, that individual will be eligible to receive up to 5 loads per year. Those who are left ineligible due to income requirements can still receive 1 load per year, compliments of the Sheriff’s Office.

Wooten said anyone interested in signing up for the program simply needs to contact the Senior Center, “and they go through the process of making sure they meet their requirements, and once they do, they reach out to us, as far as to assist them.”

Due to the harsh winter weather conditions and frigid temperatures much of the region has experienced so far this year, Wooten said the value of the program could not be over-stated.

He added: “Obviously, this time of year, that means a lot to those who use firewood as heat.”

The Dawson County Senior Center is located at 201 Recreation Road, Dawsonville, GA 30534. To find out if you qualify for the program, you may contact them during regular business hours at (706) 344-3700.

Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News

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