Blytheville implementing water bill assistance program in 2012

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Blytheville Mayor James Sanders recently announced the city will implement a water bill assistance program for low-income families beginning in 2012.

Mississippi County Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission will manage the program along with the county's electric and heat bill assistance programs that are already in place.

Nucor-Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel Arkansas donated $40,000 to the project that will begin June 2012 and end September 2012. Mississippi County EOC will administer funds to low-income individuals and families, not to exceed $100 per month, or $200 per year.

Blytheville Waterworks general manager Gary Phillips has been working at Blytheville Waterworks since March 2011.  Phillips presented the idea to Nucor after consulting with Blytheville mayor James Sanders about the project. "After assessing how things were working out here, we do have a lot of people in this community who are having financial difficulties," he said.

Phillips said the water assistance program is the first of its kind in Arkansas.  He doesn't yet have an idea of how many people in Blytheville will need assistance. According to the 2010 United State census, 15, 620 people live in Blytheville.  More than one-fourth of the city's population lived below poverty level from 2005-2009.

The Blytheville water bill consists of several elements. "It's not just the water bill.  It's the sewer bill, the sanitation bill, the mosquito spray bill, the sewer improvement act," Phillips said. "The upgrade to the sewer system is a quarter of a million dollars."

To find out if you qualify for assistance go to the Mississippi County EOC web site, or call 870.776.1054.

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