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Energy Assistance Program Numbers Down

The number of people seeking money to help pay their high winter energy bills may be decreasing.

South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP) officials say the number of applicants for energy assistance grants has fallen by more than a third this year.

Spokeswoman Christine Combs says about 1,100 people have gotten the cash this year, down from nearly 1,900 a year ago.

Bloomington resident Dustin Maxfield has been using space heaters to stay warm since being laid off and is having trouble paying his propane utility bill. Now he’s applying to SCCAP to get help heating his home.

"I’ve never been in a program like this," Maxfield says. "Today I signed up for food stamps and I’ve never had to do that in my entire life. I've always been one of those people that thought people need to get jobs and for the first time in my life, I’m knocked on my butt and I have to ask for help."

More than 4,200 households received energy assistance in 2011, down about 1,000 from 2010.

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