Rural Missouri - September 2011 - (Page 5)

Hart to Heart Help us stop the copper thieves E by Barry Hart bhart@amec.coop very day, the employees of your electric cooperative strive to keep your service as reliable as possible. But another group of people is doing their best to undo that hard work. I’m talking about thieves who target electric cooperative property for copper theft. Across the state, electric cooperatives are reporting a huge increase in copper theft. These unscrupulous people are putting electric cooperative lineworkers in jeopardy when they remove ground wires designed to protect employees from shock. In one case, a contractor working for Sho-Me Power in Marshfield stopped just inches from touching a transformer that had its grounding wire removed by a copper thief. When the transformer was regrounded, it arced 69,000 volts — more than enough energy to have killed him had he completed the path to ground. KAMO Power, which provides high-voltage transmission for electric cooperatives in southwest Missouri and Oklahoma, is averaging five copper thefts per week. The transmission cooperative is losing thousands of dollars in wire, while its employees lose valuable time making repairs. In some cases, thieves have taken wire worth only $50 as copper scrap while causing $4,000 to $5,000 in damage to equipment. They’ve also caused outages, endangering members who depend on electricity for medical equipment that keeps them alive. In one case, thieves in the Kansas City area removed copper wire that left a good part of the city without service. While cities are seeing their fair share of the problem, rural areas are bearing a heavier burden due to their remote locations. It’s not just power lines that are being targeted in rural Missouri. Rural churches are losing air conditioner coils. Farmers also are getting hit, especially those who use center pivot irrigation systems. When thieves steal from an electric cooperative, all of the members are left holding the bill for repairs. For this reason, we need your help in order to put a stop to these crimes. In 2008, the Missouri legislature put more teeth in state law dealing with copper and other metal theft. They made this crime a class C felony and added requirements that scrap dealers must keep records of their purchases totaling more than $50. This legislation — combined with increased attention from the Rural Crimes “If you witness any suspicious activity around power lines, offices or substations, please call the Rural Crimes Hotline at 888-484-8477.” Barry Hart Task Force — has made it far easier to prosecute thieves and put them behind bars for a long time. But first we have to catch them. And that’s where you can help. If you witness any suspicious activity around power lines, offices or substations, please call the Rural Crimes Hotline at 888-484-8477. This hotline is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When you call, the dispatcher will get you connected with the Missouri State Highway Patrol or local authorities. They can then determine if foul play is taking place. What should you look for? Here’s a few suggestions: • Unmarked vehicles parked near warehouses or substations. • People working near lines without protective equipment such as hard hats and rubber gloves. • Damage to fences or gates around substations and co-op offices. • Trucks or trailers with no signs hauling wire on or off reels. Your electric cooperative needs your help in order to end this serious problem. Please join us in this effort to keep an eye out for thieves. Hart is the executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Guest Column Getting health insurance just got easier I by Nanette Foster Reilly f you have been turned down for health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, you may have another option. You may be eligible for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a new program created under the Affordable Care Act. Currently, in most states, private health insurance companies can refuse to insure you if you have a preexisting condition. The PCIP, available since July 2010, provides a health coverage option for children and adults who have been locked out of the health insurance market because of a pre-existing condition. The absence of affordable health insurance can wreak havoc on people’s lives. An untreated medical condition may prevent people from working and frequently disrupts relationships with friends and family. It can cost people their livelihood — and in some cases their lives. The transitional PCIP program will continue until 2014 when Americans, regardless of their health status, will have access to affordable health insurance because insurers will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people with any pre-existing condition, such as cancer, diabetes and asthma. Under PCIP, you’ll be insured for a wide range of benefits including physician’s services, hospital care, prescription drugs and treatment for your pre-existing condition. You won’t be charged a higher premium because of your medical condition and your eligibility isn’t based on your income. Like standard health insurance plans, you’ll be required to pay a monthly premium, a deductible and some cost-sharing expenses. The Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan in Missouri is called the MHIP program. For the Missouri program, the state will ask applicants to attach documentation to their applications as proof of their condition. For children, Missouri followed the federal guidelines. They are eligible if they are under the age of 19, have a letter signed by a physician, and used to have or presently have a condition or have an offer of individual insurance coverage with a premium at least twice as much as “The absence of affordable health insurance can wreak havoc on people’s lives.” Nanette Foster Reilly the PCIP premium for the standard option in the state. Applicants will still need to meet other eligibility criteria, including proof that they are U.S. citizens or legal residents and have been uninsured for at least six months. Individuals may download a paper application at www.mhip.org/federalplan-options.html and then click on the link on the right-hand side that says, “Apply Now.” You also can apply or get a paper form by calling 1-800-821-2231. PCIP is already changing the lives of Americans who don’t have health coverage and need medical care. If you or anyone you know has a pre-existing condition, be sure to tell them about this new program. For many, these plans provide access to life-saving treatments. It’s vital we continue to find those who are eligible and get them covered. Reilly works out of the Kansas City office for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, under the Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, visit www.pcip.gov or call 866-717-5826 (TTY 866-561-1604). SEPTEMBER 2011 5 http://www.mhip.org/federal-plan-options.html http://www.mhip.org/federal-plan-options.html http://www.pcip.gov

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2011

Rural Missouri - September 2011
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
The story behind the stories
Hemp bales and history
Bear necessities
Outdoors
Out of the Way Eats
Open up and say ‘neigh!’
Back to the one-room school
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
The Missouri artist
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - September 2011

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