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Fri., Sep. 19
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Malone weathers deep freeze

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MALONE — Despite the extremely low temperatures of the past few days, the Malone area has remained relatively unscathed by the recent frigid winter weather.

Across New York state, three deaths — including a woman with Alzheimer’s disease who wandered out into the cold — have been blamed on the extreme cold that poured into the state earlier this week. Officials in New York City were encouraging homeless people there to seek shelter as temperatures were expected to dip into the single digits.

In the Malone area, the Rev. Joseph Selenski, pastor of Lifeway Community Church that runs the Barnabas House homeless shelter, said the number of people seeking shelter is actually down, even as the region endured more than 48 straight hours of subzero temperatures.

The Rev. Mr. Selenski said Friday that although the shelter on Finney Boulevard has eight beds spread across six rooms, only two people are taking advantage of them.

“For some reason we’re in a bit of a lull,” he said. “It’s the first time in about a year we’re not at full capacity.”

He said the shelter is usually full during an extreme cold snap, adding that this could have to do with the Franklin County Department of Social Services being able to take care of all of those in need.

Mr. Selenski said he doesn’t expect this break to last long and thinks the shelter will be at full capacity again next week.

A nursing official at Alice Hyde Medical Center said that while its facilities usually experience an increase in population during the winter, it has been moderate. The hospital has not experienced an increase in medical incidents related to the weather, except maybe a few car accidents.

But what the cold weather has done is simple: created a need for heat.

Propane prices are up almost 64 cents a gallon in the past two months, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority — 44 cents between November and December alone. It’s a $64 increase for a 100-gallon tank.

Heating oil and kerosene experienced a 17-cent and 13-cent spike, respectively.

This may be a contributing factor to Franklin County’s Home Energy Assistance Program department “receiving a large volume of calls” since the emergency benefit component of the 2013-14 HEAP season opened Thursday. A line of people waited patiently outside the office Friday afternoon, with signs imploring “please, one at a time.”

To qualify for emergency HEAP, a household must be out of fuel or have less than a quarter of a tank remaining. If the heating system is electric-based, it must be shut off or scheduled to be shut off. The household income also must be at or below this year’s income guidelines, with less than $2,000 in savings available, or $3,000 if a member of the household is 60 or older.

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