Heat is on at area warming sites

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — With daytime temperatures sticking right around the freezing mark, Mainers do what they can to stay warm. And, community members respond to the needs of their neighbors.

According to various news reports, a limited supply of funding is allocated to aid with the purchase of home heating oil. Often, state or federal assistance comes in the form of free winterization in an attempt to stretch those dollars spent on heating fuel.

In many communities, the result is a grassroots effort to create heating assistance funds for residents in need. Also, groups have tried to find creative solutions to keeping residents warm during the winter — often, despite small budgets or no money at all to support that goal.

This month, the towns of Casco and Naples have established community warming sites. The sites are low-cost because they are located at places that are already in operation during the day.

In Casco, the official “warming hut” is the town’s library; and in neighboring Naples, during town office hours, the large, carpeted meeting room will serve as a warming site.

Casco resident and warming site organizer Lynne Potter said, “Anyone who wants to go to the library and warm up, instead of cranking up their heat, is welcome.”

At the Casco Public Library, not only is the building warm, but it is also inviting, Potter said. There are plenty of activities to keep a person busy from using the library’s computers to hooking up a personal laptop to WiFi, or simply curling up with a good book.

The concept behind the warming sites is to allow people to save money on heating bills during the daytime hours.

According to Potter, the population most likely to use a warming site is comprised of people who do not work outside of the home during the day such as retired folks and stay-at-home parents with a pre-school-aged child or children.

The Casco Library Board of Trustees will be meeting in the near future. At that time, the board may outline some reasonable restrictions and rules for the people who use the public building as a warming site, Potter said.

She advocated getting the information out to the public about warming sites in each town. Potter envisions networking between the towns to provide places to go to stay toasty and socialize all week long.

According to Naples resident Barbara Adlard, who last week held an Open House for Naples’ sanctioned warming site, “We are trying to get the other towns involved, and get a list of warming sites for the community.”

Adlard said in addition to reducing heating bills, an important component of the site is “being together, and enjoying each other’s company.”

The warming site offers a variety of board games and a television. Also, coffee, tea and snacks will be available.

“On really cold days, we will serve soup,” Adlard said.

“We are hoping people will feel free to come to this warming site,” she said.

“It is really important for people to know that they have a safe place to come — and it is the generosity of our selectmen that made this possible,” Adlard said.

Like at the Casco Public Library, people will have to abide by a few rules. At the town office, parents will be responsible for supervising their children so they do not interfere with the employees working at the town office, she said.

In addition to activities and snacks, Adlard is planning to host a series of presentations such as tips on heat conservation and how to avoid fraud and scams aimed at senior citizens. She plans to ask warming site participants what topics they would most like to learn about.

There is a need for volunteers at the Naples warming site, she said.

In related news, a blanket drive is underway in Casco.

Drop-off spots for the blankets include: the Casco Village Post Office, the Casco Community Center, the Casco Town Office and the library. The collection boxes are labeled, and easy to locate for residents who have extra blankets to spare.

“Busy Bee Laundromat and Cleaners is cleaning blankets before we distribute them. We appreciate them doing that,” Potter said.

The town office will serve as a blanket distribution center, and Debbie Poulin is the contact person for that end of the project.

Warming Site in Casco:

The Casco Public Library, located in the Village off Route 121.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Warming Site in Naples:

The Naples Town Office, located off Route 302on the western side of the Causeway.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays.

 

 

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