Eye On Boise

'There's people stimulus won't help'

Why was the request of a disabled woman from Shoshone for $34,000 to pay off credit card debt among the $4.7 billion in stimulus funding requests that Gov. Butch Otter received? Asked if she really expected to get anything, Melody Russell told the Assoicated Press, “To be honest, no. ... But I can always wish and hope,” said Russell, whose debt is from the family's crushing medical bills. "I mainly wanted the governor to know that there’s people here who that stimulus is not going to help at all. My 10-year-old was telling me the other day, her clothes were getting a little small.” Click here to read the full story from AP reporter John Miller, plus see some of the North Idaho projects on the lists of requests, from school renovations to new libraries and fire stations. Click below to read Melody Russell's heartfelt letter to the governor requesting the funds.

Mrs. Melody Russell

PO Box 692

Shoshone, ID  83352


The Honorable C.L. “Butch” Otter

Office of the Governor

PO Box  83720

Boise, ID  83720


February 18, 2009


RE: Idaho Stimulus Payment 2009


Dear Honorable Governor Otter;


My name is Melody Russell and I would like to tell you a little bit about my family and our circumstances.


I am disabled with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.  My husband, Gary Russell, has had two liver transplants 11 years apart, through the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  His health problem occurred due to Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis which is a disease of the bile ducts.  This disease also destroyed his colon and he has had his entire colon surgically removed.  As a result of all the medications he has taken, his kidneys have been damaged and are only functioning at 35%.


Before my MS worsened, my husband and I owned and operated an Emergency Ambulance Service in Shoshone, Lincoln County, Idaho for more than 19 years.


I currently receive Medicare and Social Security Disability.  My husband works as a van driver for the local nursing home making $9.50 an hour.  Due to the economy, his work hours have been dropped to sometimes only 15 hours a week.  We have had to drop our medical insurance as the premium was more than $1,200 a month.  At the current time, my husband is uninsured.  I have NO supplemental insurance to help with the costs that Medicare do not cover.  We have two minor children who are covered under the Idaho Medicaid program.


Due to our low level of income, my husband and I both qualify and receive assistance through the Prescription Drug Companies.  All of these benefits we are very grateful for.


We live in a modest home with a mortgage balance of approx $76,000.  We have two vehicles, the year of one  is a 1992 and the year of the other is a 1990.


We are struggling with making enough money to cover our minimum living expenses.  We live very frugally.  I have not had a new pair of shoes in over 5 years.  Our clothing comes from hand-me-downs, or yard sales.


Our biggest struggle right now is our credit card debt.  Before we were approved for free medication through the Prescription companies, we had to put our medications on credit cards.  We currently only have two credit cards with a total balance of approx.  $34,000.


I would like to make a request that the State of Idaho give our family a small portion of the Economic Stimulus budget, enough to pay our debt.  If we could get out of debt than what money we make we can spend and put back into our economy.


Thank you for your consideration,


Melody Russell

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