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More will be seeking help in county

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BENTON -- A changing economy may mean more Scott County families will seek assistance to make ends meet.

Jean Barham of the Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation met with Scott County commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday to present an overview of DAEOC's services.

"You know DAEOC works with poor people," Barham said.

Many families that are not below the poverty line "have a very difficult time making ends meet," Barham said, and DAEOC also provides services "that help people get by."

Barham said they anticipate more people seeking help in Scott County. "The food banks are already seeing this," she said. "Our economy has problems."

Barham invited commissioners to attend a poverty simulation scheduled from 9 a.m. until noon Aug. 6 at the Sikeston Elk's Lodge.

Those with higher incomes "don't quite comprehend what it is to be low income," she said. "(The simulation) does give you a little bit of a different perspective."

Asked by Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger how a family goes about getting help from DAEOC, Barham said the first step is an assessment which looks at employment and education level to see if the person has a job and, if they do have a job, if could they could get a better job by having more education.

"We think poor people just need to get jobs," Barham said. "Most poor people have jobs but they don't have jobs that pay enough."

Barham also discussed DAEOC's energy assistance programs including an emergency crisis intervention program that can provide up to $800 for those who have received a utility shutoff notice. Around 11,000 applications per year are received by DAEOC for energy assistance, she said.

DAEOC also has a program that will pay one month of rent to keep a family from being evicted or, for those who have been evicted, provide assistance getting into new place if they have the means to pay the rent.

Barham also advised commissioners the Sikeston DAEOC office is moving at the end of this month from 422 North Main to offices on Malone Avenue formerly occupied by Bucher, Essner & Miles CPA.

In other business Tuesday:

* Joel Evans, county developer, advised commissioners he is meeting with Steve Duke, executive director of the Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission at Dexter, Thursday for the finalization of the county's Enhanced Enterprise Zone application.

* While Scott County is planning to begin holding federal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisoners in its jail for additional revenue, "we are still going to accommodate" prisoners from Sikeston, Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn said. "Sikeston, Scott County, is the No. 1 priority for prisoners."