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It’s hard for Wendy Jackson to keep her lights on.
She felt helpless when she went to Harriman Utility Board last week after her most recent outage and brought money she’d begged from family and friends — some of it in change jars.
It was shortly before closing, and the clerks initially denied her the coins before changing their minds.
“I had $281,” Jackson said. “They (originally) refused to take my change because it wasn’t rolled.”
HUB Manager Bill Young said the utility does not accept an abundance of loose change.
“I don’t comment on specific customer issues, but I will tell you in general we don’t accept a payment that is a lot of change unless it is wrapped,” he said. “Our bank will not take a lot of loose change unless wrapped.”
Young said HUB offers wrappers and tells customers where they may find change machine counters.
“We accept payments in a number of ways: cash, checks, money orders, credit cards, online and bank drafts, so the customer has several options to pay,” Young said.
Jackson has an ongoing problem with having her utilities turned off.
She said she paid $400 toward the delinquent utilities to get them back on more than 20 days prior to her most recent shutoff.
Money woes have grown for Jackson since the former Keep Roane Beautiful director pleaded guilty to theft from the organization in 2011.
She said her husband is the breadwinner and is paid on commission.
Jackson also said she pays a $50 high-risk fee because of the frequent times she has been disconnected.
Young said the utility charges a variety of service fees and high-risk fees based on different customers.
“A high-risk fee is assessed when we have done multiple disconnects for nonpayment,” Young said.
Young said HUB encourages any customer who struggles to pay to try make arrangements with the utility.
“As long as the customer pays per arrangement or continues to contact us, we try to work with them,” he said.