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Firewood stashed by Warren County will now go to families in need

Firewood that was collected, cut and split since 2008 by Warren County workers in a program to help those in need, will now be distributed as intended after a news report prompted public concern that the wood was merely decaying. The firewood, five cords or so, is piled up in the exercise yard of the former Warren County Jail.

Firewood that was collected, cut and split since 2008 by Warren County workers in a program to help those in need, will now be distributed as intended after a news report prompted public concern that the wood was merely decaying. The firewood, five cords or so, is piled up in the exercise yard of the former Warren County Jail. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Firewood that Warren County had stockpiled to help low income homeowners heat their homes — but ended up decaying — will now be donated to a local charity to distribute to those in need.

On Dec. 22, the Warren County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to give the wood to North Country Ministry, whose founder Brother James Poluszny heard of the county's firewood stash and volunteered to take it off the county's hands, county Administrator Paul Dusek said.

"He volunteered to pick up the wood, take on the responsibility, accept it as is, and be completely responsible to distribute it," Dusek said. "It has become a win-win situation – the wood actually gets to people in need, as was the purpose of the program, yet there's no liability to the county.”

Others noted that firewood — which can vary in quality and burning characteristics — could have posed a liability to the county if a recipient of the wood had a suffered a home fire.

Since 2008, county workers had garnered the wood from trees that had fallen along highways they maintain. They cut, split and stacked the wood for the county program that was established in 2008 to help low-income residents who burn wood to heat their homes. The firewood was to be distributed to families selected by the county Social Services Department.

Much of the wood, however, decayed in storage behind the former county jail at the county Municipal Center.

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