With federal budget cuts taking a bite out of a charitable fund that helps lower-income Maine residents heat their homes, author Stephen King announced plans Wednesday to help bridge the gap. His Stephen and Tabitha King Charitable Foundation will match up to $70,000 donated to Maine's heating oil fund, with hopes that they can raise $140,000 total.
King no longer lives year-round in Bangor, Maine, but he returns there and owns three local radio stations that will spread the word about the effort, the Bangor Daily News reports. “We’ll match up to $70,000 of the amount raised,” King said. “This economy is terrible and Tabitha and I both worry so much about Bangor because it truly is a working-class town and we are always looking for ways to help, and right now this is a great need.”
King added, “And on top of it the price of fuel continues to rise. The cost goes up, the need goes up and the assistance goes down. That’s the bottom line. That’s what is happening.”
Last winter the federal government gave Maine $55.6 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; the state learned last month that this winter's funds will be just $23 million. The Bangor News writes that people are "desperate to find help to fill their oil tanks." The governor plans to seek funds to fill the gap from the Maine Legislature.
The average high temperature in Bangor during the winter months is just around freezing, with lows averaging around 11 degrees; in 1962, it recorded a record low of 30 degrees below zero.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: A house in a 2008 Maine snowstorm. Credit: Anathea via Flickr