Helping hands

  -They treat you just like gold," says Stan Banta, who at 79 works for Idaho's Targhee National Forest as part of the Older American Program. Started 25 years ago by the Department of Labor, the program offers retirees some income while their labor props up cash-poor parks parks, says coordinator Marsha Phillips. To be eligible, people must be 55 or older, make less than $12,950 a year and not exceed 1,039 hours on the job during their 12-month stint. Annually almost 5,000 individuals at national forests around the country are selected, trained, then put to work at $4.25 per hour, Phillips says, and at Targhee, most end up with permanent positions. One of 17 workers there, Stan Banta says the work is enjoyable and he notices that it "sure lifts the load off people at the Forest Service." Anyone interested in the program should contact a local Forest Service office.

* Patrick Dowd

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