WEST EXETER _ The Lashers need help and don't know where to turn.
They live on 15.8 acres on Otsego County Route 19 in the town of Exeter, with the massive Marcy-South power line curving around their land.
For a time, they lived in two adjoining trailers, but the roof caved in on one and their fiberboard mudroom is collapsing.
Roxanne Lasher, who used to work for the Senior Outreach food pantry in Springfield Center, inherited a doublewide trailer upon the death of her aunt and uncle in Rhinebeck. But the cost of moving the doublewide to Exeter is $4,000.
``We scraped together $1,000 and borrowed another $1,000,'' Roxanne Lasher, 49, said Tuesday. That was enough to bring half of the doublewide to their land, and it sat at the end of their driveway Tuesday morning.
``I don't know where we're going to get the other $2,000,'' she said.
Eugene Lasher, 52, is a farmhand at a local dairy farm. He says he earns enough money to put food on the table, but not enough to cope with emergencies, such as his wife's gall bladder surgery three years ago.
``That hurt, and she's had other health problems, too,'' he said.
In the early 1990s, Roxanne Lasher worked for Senior Outreach, and later, she operated Will-A-Way, a food pantry in Richfield Springs.
``I ran that until I couldn't keep up with it any more,'' she said.
After that, she worked for Rosewood Terrace, an assisted-living facility in Richfield, Lasher said. But now she is suffering from high blood pressure, arthritis and depression and has been unable to work for three years, she said.
In the meantime, the Lashers' barn has collapsed. They no longer can afford a telephone, and about two weeks ago, their electricity was shut off by the New York State Electric & Gas Corp., they said.
On Tuesday night, Clayton Ellis, a NYSEG spokesman, sent an e-mail to The Daily Star stating: ``Out of respect for the privacy of the relationship we have with our customers, we cannot discuss a customer's account with anyone except the customer unless we have written permission from the customer.
``The last thing we want to do is shut off service. We encourage customers who are having difficulty paying their bills to contact us right away. The sooner they contact us, the sooner we can work on a solution together.
``As prescribed by New York state law, we go through an extensive notification process before we reach the point of shutting off service.''
``We owed them about $2,000,'' said Roxanne Lasher. ``We went for HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) last year, and I thought that was going to help, but they didn't pay much.''
Without electricity, she said, she is unable to operate a device she needs at night to control her sleep apnea.
``At night, I've been staying at my father's house in Fly Creek, because he has electricity, and coming back here every morning,'' she said.
Lasher said she went to the Department of Social Services for help, and was told she would have to grant the county a lien on her property to receive cash assistance.
``That's something I won't do; it took too many years to get this land,'' she said.
``I love every acre of it,'' said Eugene Lasher.
Joyce Boyd, Otsego County's interim DSS commissioner, said the department ``does require a lien if someone is seeking cash assistance.''
The lien is there to allow the county's taxpayers to be reimbursed if properties are sold, she said.
The couple's son, Eugene M. Lasher, is disabled and lives with his parents. Their daughter, Heather, who lives in Oneonta, said she has helped out the family as much as she can.
``I'm in school and have two kids, and I really can't do much more now,'' she said Monday. ``But it would be nice if some of the people my mom helped all those years could help her now.''
Roxanne Lasher's sister, Jenny Wyant, said she, too, is unable to advance the Lashers money.
Otsego County Rep. Betty Anne Schwerd, R-Burlington, said that if the Lashers contact her, she will see what assistance can be provided.
Springfield Town Supervisor Thomas Armstrong said he recalled the crew at the Senior Outreach food pantry, although he didn't know Roxanne Lasher by name.
``It's too bad when good people like that get in trouble,'' said Armstrong, who said he will see if he can find help for the family.