DEAR SUN SPOTS: On Tuesday night, Dec. 29, there was a program on local access channel 9 that was about grants and low-interest loans for seniors to help winterize their homes. I think it was called rural development, but I didn’t get any other information. Could you please find the name and number? We don’t have a computer, so a Web site won’t help. Thank you very much. — No Name, Sabattus

ANSWER: Sun Spots is very grateful to this reader for writing. She had a question earlier this fall about winterization aid for low-income seniors but was unaware of this program, which offers grants and low-interest loans for those in rural areas meeting income requirements.

The local office for those in Androscoggin, Kennebec, Oxford and Franklin counties is at 254 Goddard Road, Lewiston, ME 04240, 753-9400. Sun Spots spoke to Orman Whitcomb, area director. He said that it’s a really great program and provides a wide variety of things for those who meet the requirements, including supplemental heating. He said callers should ask for John Darling, ext. 237, or Debora Berry, ext. 224.

Sun Spots also spoke to John Darling, who offered some additional details. There are two 504 programs, one for grants, the other for loans. The grant program is for single-family residences with one resident owner being 62 years old or older. The maximum grant is $7,500. There is no age requirement for the loan program, which offers up to $20,000 at 1 percent interest for 20 years.

For those readers with computers, these two Web sites may prove useful:

Guaranteed single-family housing: ww.rurdev.usda.gov/me/SFH/approved_lenders.htm

Online income and property eligibility: http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/

Note, this program is for rural development, so there are parts of cities (primarily Lewiston, Auburn and Augusta) that are not eligible. Also, the income requirements for both programs are HUD-adjusted, which means very low income to qualify.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Here is something interesting to eat. You have many French people in Lewiston-Auburn, and since they like frogs and snails for dinner, perhaps a snapping turtle would be tasty, too. Plenty here in Maine. — No Name, No Town

ANSWER: This reader included a recipe in his or her letter, but Sun Spots cannot reprint it due to copyright concerns. Turtle soup is quite a favored delicacy in many parts of the world; unfortunately, many species of turtle (including some in Maine) are endangered or threatened and need to be protected. Randomly harvesting local turtles might not be a good idea, not to mention that cutting up a turtle for dinner wouldn’t be too easy!

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Thank you for your great column. We have many, many plastic bags that we receive from Shaw’s, Hannaford and Wal-Mart, etc. Are there any organizations or other establishments that could use them? — L.G., Lewiston

ANSWER: Perhaps a reader will have a suggestion as to what to do with this those bags. The library might want some for people who are getting books in snowy or rainy weather. If all else fails, you can recycle them.

You might also want to switch to reusable bags. Any canvas or cloth bag will do, or you can purchase them. Hannaford’s has a really nice square bag with soft, easy-to-grip handles for 50 cents. Not only do they save the environment, but they are easier to carry, load and unload, and hold up much better than the plastic ones. No more having your canned goods rip through the bottom of a thin plastic bag!

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I have a collection of pet shop friends (animal collection) minus the duck from Red Rose tea. Anyone interested may have them. Is there anyone interested in old watches? I can be reached at 364-8898. — No Name, Rumford

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to [email protected]


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