U-Hauls help out at election time

Monday, September 26, 2005

Q: I would like to know what the county uses the U-Haul trucks for that I see sitting at their offices in Jackson on a frequent basis? -- Marco Otten, Jackson

A: "We rent U-Hauls to deliver election supplies," said Cape Girardeau County Clerk Rodney Miller. "We take the supplies -- booths, suitcase-style computers, ballots, signs, big blue boxes -- out on the Monday before an election. To do this, we rent four trucks. Two of the trucks go on the out-county run. The other two trucks go over to the city of Cape. Then we rent four trucks to pick everything up on the following Wednesday."

Miller said the rental frequency varies annually. "It depends on the number of elections. We've done as many as five in a year, counting special and general elections."

The trucks do not pick up the completed ballots. "The voter ballots are brought in by election judges and are closely monitored," he said.

Q: How can people get involved with Habitat for Humanity in Cape Girardeau?

A: According to its Web site, Habitat for Humanity is a not-for-profit, nondenominational Christian housing organization that welcomes people to join together to build simple, decent, affordable houses in partnership with those who lack adequate shelter. The houses, built by volunteers including the future homeowners, are sold to the homeowner families at no profit. Homeowner families are chosen according to their need; their ability to repay a no-profit, no-interest mortgage; and their willingness to work in partnership with Habitat.

In his speech to the nation last week, President Bush cited Habitat as an important not-for-profit helping to provide homes to those ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Locally, the executive director is Bob Bohnsack, who encourages you to call 334-9728 or visit the local Web site, www.capeareahabitat.org, for information about participating. You might also check with your church to learn if it is involved in a Habitat project.

"Cape Area Habitat for Humanity needs you, whatever you can offer," said Bohnsack, who said the local construction agenda is to start and complete five houses here annually. The organization needs manpower, land, building materials and money.

"The wonderful thing about Habitat is individuals and groups can all make a difference -- whether with donations of money, materials, or helping with construction, phone calling, cooking meals, office work or serving on the organization's committees," Bohnsack said.

Q: Is it true that family members of those who work with and sponsor the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway can enter the contest? And could you tell me who won the $5,000 shopping spree at Hutson furniture? It was not mentioned in the newspaper.

A: "Only immediate family of media sponsors and St. Jude employees are ineligible to enter," said Christina Forcelledo, event marketing representative with St. Jude. "Parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, spouses, children. The media sponsors were Southeast Missourian, KEZS 103 and Charter Communications."

"The winner of the shopping spree, which benefited St. Jude's, was Tom Sparkman," said Chris Hutson, one of the owners of Hutson Furniture. Chris pointed out that Tom is the spouse of Carol Sparkman, a volunteer who helped organize part of the St. Jude's fund raiser. He was eligible according to the rules, and the selection was made on live television under strict control.

The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway benefits St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, one of the world's premier pediatric cancer research centers.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. If you have a question, e-mail factorfiction@semissourian.com or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or fiction?"

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