RUMFORD – Nearly four dozen River Valley residents ages 60 and older attended the area’s first senior fair Thursday afternoon to learn about services ranging from fuel assistance and conserving electricity to emergency preparations.

Kim Goding, marketing director for SeniorsPlus in Lewiston, said the fair is one of a series being held in Oxford, Franklin and Androscoggin counties aimed to help older people get into the social service system, if qualified, or to provide other help such as applications for rental or tax rebates, and other benefits people may be unaware of.

This was the first time SeniorsPlus has brought the fair to Rumford. The agency maintains offices in Wilton and Lewiston, but none in Oxford County.

Beginning later in the month, the resources will be made available again when a van will travel to areas without a SeniorsPlus office, Goding said. The schedule will be published.

Each person who attended received an emergency blanket and a list of other things to keep in an emergency pack, low energy use light bulbs, a coupon to purchase a digital television converter, and other items.

The fairs are funded through a grant from Homeland Security, Goding said.

State Public Advocate Wayne Jortner compared costs for Internet access and telephone rates for people who sometimes are overwhelmed with the number and variety of services. Other fair participants took applications for fuel assistance, taught people about a Medicare benefit for some prescriptions, demonstrated ways to winterize homes and provided winterizing kits, and described other ways to save money.

The fair has already been held in Lewiston, Fryeburg, Oxford and Rangeley. Other fairs are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, in the Bass Room of Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Murray Hall in Livermore Falls on Nov. 14.

People ages 60 and older, or who is disabled, may use the services provided by SeniorsPlus. The office may be reached by calling 1-800-427-1241.

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