Couple donate timber to low-income Vermonters

RUTLAND - Routine maintenance along a Central Vermont Public Service right-of-way will help heat the homes of low-income residents next winter, thanks to a surprise donation from a Vermont couple.

CVPS maintains thousands of miles of rights-of-way, and contractors routinely trim or remove trees that have grown up to threaten power lines. Property owners own the trees in the ROWs, and sometimes use the cut trees for firewood or lumber, but the couple couple asked if the wood could be donated to help those in need.

As a result, CVPS and Silent Heat, a local non-profit, are teaming up this week to remove the wood from its remote location along a power line west of U.S. Route 7, so Silent Heat can cut and split it and donate it to local families in need.

With a donation from CVPS, a local logger will drag the downed trees, which were donated by James and Deb Mithoefer, to a landing, and Silent Heat workers will take it from there. The Mithoefers plan to use the newly cleared right-of-way to pasture sheep.

"Thanks to the Mithoefers, around 30 cords of wood will be available through Silent Heat," CVPS Forester Bert Stewart said. "It's nice hardwood for heating-maple, beech, ash and cherry."

Once cut and split, the wood will be worth approximately $5,000.

"This will help numerous families when winter returns," said Mark Tucci, executive director of Silent Heat, which also provides wood recipients with safety cans. Each safety can, which is actually an ash bucket with tight-fitting lid, contains a fire extinguisher, a smoke alarm with battery, a soot stick, 211 information, and safety tips from the state fire marshal.

"There's an awful lot of wood up there," Deb Mithoefer said. "We certainly can't burn it all, and thought it would be the neighborly thing to do donate it. We're happy to partner with CVPS and Silent Heat to ensure it goes where it is needed most."

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