READFIELD — A handful of volunteers sorted and sawed logs gathered at the Readfield Transfer Station in order to aid those who don’t qualify for State General Assistance, but still need help keeping the heat on during the upcoming cold months.

The pile, standing about 7 feet tall, 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep, would yield six to eight cord of wood once cut, according to Town Manager Eric Dyer. The town usually pays $1,000 a year to have two or three cord delivered from a donor-funded local assistance program.

There are two general assistance programs in Readfield, Dyer said. The classic General Assistance, which is partly reimbursed by the state, and a local Heating and Utility Assistance Program. The former sees about $5,000 in town funding, while the latter is solely donor-driven. The wood being cut on Sunday and split and stacked next weekend fits into the donor-driven program.

“(The state has) very low income guidelines and the maximum benefits are capped,” he said. “There are lots of folks that are just not desperately poor who may need help … they might come up short.”

The local program has more relaxed guidelines. Though it has some restrictions and some do not quality, Dyer said, the town will always try to provide some sort of help.

“If you need help and you come and ask for it, we try to provide it,” he said.

The program is pulled together through donations and a bottle drive, it usually sees “a couple thousand dollars,” according to Dyer.

Dyer was in the thick of the work with three others, clad with protective masks, earmuffs and chaps, cutting up logs with chainsaws. The logs were thrown into piles by two other volunteers. The wood, gathered over a period of two years, was in different lengths in the pile, so the volunteers cut it into 16-inch sections that fit into most wood-burning stoves.

Anna Carll, the town’s deputy road commissioner and animal control officer, donated her time and experience with a chainsaw to help pare down the pile.

“Most of this wood was transported by me and other colleagues from trees down in the road that the fire department clears then we have to take care of the rest of it,” she said. “This pretty much wood that I’ve already cut.”

Dyer said some of the wood was donated by residents who clear their property and don’t have a need for it. The wood was always accepted under the assumption that it would be provided to needy citizens.

“They will just bring it here and dump it on the pile,” he said. “It’s been pretty informal to date, but we finally had a critical mass where … we could start doing this on a regular basis.”

Carll said the need in Readfield for firewood is larger than it may appear, citing some of her interactions with residents while doing tree work.

“I’ve seen a lot of people struggle,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of tree work in the cemeteries and every time a tree comes down, there’s always someone asking ‘can I have that wood?'”

“It’s good to see it go to the community,” she added. “A lot of people need it.”

Readfield resident Brian Tarbuck was one of the volunteers who were cutting logs. He said the decision to help out with the project was simple; it was the “right thing to do.”

“Why wouldn’t you (help) if you can?” Tarbuck said. “I have a saw and I had some time.”

Tarbuck said that he may know some people in need of the wood, but they wouldn’t think to ask for the help they need.

“They would be too proud to say anything, certainly,” he said. “You can do this anonymously and (get) help.”

The Transfer Station where the wood was gathered and cut serves Readfield, Wayne and Fayette, but the wood will only be available to Readfield residents. Residents interested in the wood must confirm with Dyer before taking wood from the station.

“I don’t want people just showing up and loading up,” he said.

The town recently beefed up security at the station, adding security cameras in 2016. Transfer station employees will also be told who gets to pick up wood, Dyer said.

Dyer said he hopes a similar event to Sunday’s takes place annually and could expand to other municipalities around Readfield.

“Once people know we have it, we’ll see more demand,” Dyer said. “It all depends on how it all shakes out.”

Those interested in volunteering on Sunday, Sept. 23 to split and stack the wood are encouraged to contact the Town Office at 685-4939.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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