OAKLAND — Residents from Garrett and surrounding counties will have the chance to speak with representatives from Verizon, Allegheny Power, Columbia Gas and Cebridge-TV cable and Internet on Wednesday at the Oakland Armory.

Representatives from Garrett County Community Action and United Way will be there to offer information about assistance programs.

“We are going to inform people about the help we can give them with the rising utility costs,” Michelle Dale, AmeriCorps coordinator at Garrett County Community Action, said.

Utilities Day will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Oakland Councilman Jay Moyer said the event was started to allow customers of local utilities to be able to have a conversation one-on-one with a real person rather than a machine.

“We feel it’s needed more than ever because of the rising utility costs,” Moyer said. He added that winter may seem a long way off, but it is best to prepare now for fuel costs.

This is the third time that Oakland has held a utilities day, and it has been very well-received.

“It think they’re helpful,” Allen Staggers, manager of corporate communications with Allegheny Power, said, “It’s a forum for anybody. If they have any questions related to utility service, they can come there. There’s a natural inclination to do business locally and face to face.”

Staggers said that forums like this help to meet with customers, though the company does what it can to make its traditional customer service as user-friendly as possible.

The public is asked to come and bring any questions about billing, service, applications for service, rates, arranging payment plans, etc. Residents as well as businesses are welcome and the event is not exclusive to Garrett County.

Rooms will be available for private consultations and transportation needs will be addressed by Garrett County Community Action.

For additional information, call Oakland City Hall at (301) 334-2691.

Sarah Moses can be reached at smoses@times-news.com.

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