April 21, 2018
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Houlton group helps County residents keep warm

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
Ken Norton (left) helps move recently processed wood to a pile where it will season, while Eugene Wendell Stewart (center) and Justin Kobylarz use the wood splitter. The men volunteered their time to cut and split wood to help Aroostook County residents in need of fuel assistance. HOULTON PIONEER TIMES PHOTO BY ELNA SEABROOKS
By Elna Seabrooks Houlton Pioneer Times, Special to the BDN

HOULTON, Maine — Last week on Military Street, three men were busy cutting and chopping logs to a woodsy symphony featuring the grinding buzz of a chain saw and the roar of a motorized wood splitter.

Eugene Wendell Stewart put cut logs through the splitter. As the logs dropped with a clump, clap, clump to the ground, Ken Norton and Justin Kobylarz tossed the logs fit for a wood stove onto a growing snow-dusted pile to let the wood start aging and eventually heat the home of an Aroostook County resident in need.

“We’re cutting up wood for people who need it,” said Stewart, a volunteer, with the other men, of Friends of Aroostook.

Dale Flewelling, program director of Friends of Aroostook, said, “We have some men here today processing wood and preparing it for delivery primarily through The Salvation Army.” Flewelling said on that day they would process about four cords of wood. Combined with more wood that was processed last year, he said about 24 cords would be available when the men finished.

“Depending on their stove, some consumers have to have seasoned wood. Others can burn what we call green wood that’s just been processed. We deliver about one-third of a cord per home,” Flewelling said. A cord of cut and stacked wood measures 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet.

Major Irma Pearl of the Houlton branch of The Salvation Army estimates the value of one-third of a cord at $60.

Pearl said she reviews a person’s income and expenses to determine need. The wood and delivery are free of charge.

“If there is a need, they will get a voucher and go to Dale who will deliver the wood to them,” she said. “A lot of people don’t have the resources to buy oil right now. It’s very serious because some people don’t know where they are going to turn to, how they are going to pay their bills or where their next meal is going to come from. It’s really a drastic thing that’s happening in people’s lives.”

Even if a person is working and bringing home a salary, fuel can be very expensive when you are already burdened by heavy debt, Pearl said. The wood can help some people get through the winter, she said.

Although Flewelling gets direct calls for help, he said everyone eventually is screened through The Salvation Army.

For the last two years, contractors Bruce Warman and Mike Lane have donated tree-length wood to FOA’s Operation Wood Heat. Flewelling said it amounted to about 18 cords of wood.

Friends of Aroostook, now in its third year of operation, has thrived under the mission of “connecting local resources with local needs.”

The organization’s programs have obtained grants and donations to help supply fresh produce and firewood to County residents in need.

“We have received funding from United Way,” Flewelling said. “And, we just received a $1,000 grant from the County Federal Credit Union in Houlton to purchase, process and deliver wood where it is needed.”

For more information, contact The Salvation Army in Houlton at 532-2322 or visit Friends of Aroostook at www.friendsofaroostook.org.

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