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Senior left high and dry by water conservation

APPLE VALLEY: Garland J. Weber wanted to do something for the environment and also save a little money. So he decided to take part in the "Cash for Grass" conservation program administered by the Mojave Water Agency.

“The inducement is that if you follow certain requirements, they will pay you for all the lawn eliminated,” Weber said. “So I elected to participate in the program and eliminate my lawn.”

Weber began the process in September, 2012. Participants are required to apply through their local water company. So Weber applied through Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company, which performed an initial inspection of his land. The representative verified the square footage of his lawn, and advised him that if he followed the guidelines he would receive a rebate of $1,104.

The terms of the agreement, as Weber recounted from the letter he received from Apple Valley Ranchos, were that 552 square feet had to be covered with drought- resistant plants and/or desert-adaptive landscaping.

“I planted the entire area with rockscape,” explained Weber. “When the Mojave Water Agency came out for a final inspection, they said that I did not plant the 552 square feet of plants, and I was not entitled to the rebate.”

Weber made several calls and sent letters of complaint. He emphasized that he was given the option of putting in plants, desert landscaping, or both.

“Their refusal to issue the rebate to me was wrong, and I had fulfilled all the requirements in the letter,” Weber said.

Rather than file a small claims lawsuit, Weber decided to write Daily Press consumer advocate Michael “Bogey” Boguslawski about the stalemate.

After first speaking with Weber and concurring with him that he was given an option on landscaping choices, Bogey called the Mojave Water District and Apple Valley city officials to have Weber's complaint reviewed.

Upon a second inspection in December, Weber was advised that he would get his refund within six weeks.

“Bogey knows how to accomplish what he is after,” Weber said. “I was unable to do it. Bogey's been doing it a long time. I received the $1,110 last month.”

Weber emphasized that the rebate only paid for a portion of what he paid for the new landscaping.

“Even though I am a retired professional, I'm still a real old senior on a fixed budget, and it really hurt not to get the rebate. It was like a late Christmas present to receive it.”

STILL BEING CHARGED COLTON:

Bank of America sent David P. Huntoon a statement in July, 2011 for an overdrawn checking account and a credit card bill. Both had belonged to his late mother.

Huntoon recounted that he sent the bank a copy of his mother's death certificate a month after she passed away in 2002. He recalls the bank advising him that they would take care of closing the account.

Huntoon's mother had listed him on the account as an authorized user. He never signed anything, nor had he ever used the accounts. For nine years there were circuitous transfers where an automatic deduction from the checking paid the credit card, and the credit card was charged to pay for the overdrawn checking account.

When threatened with garnishment in 2011 for the overdrawn account, Huntoon started paying the bank. But the retired senior found his finances stretched too thin. Huntoon's daughter lives in Apple Valley, and she encouraged her father to contact Daily Press consumer advocate Michael “Bogey” Boguslawski for help.

Bogey wrote to Bank of America on Nov. 13, 2012, imploring the CEO to immediately rectify the situation. The bank wrote Huntoon a few weeks later to confirm that he was being resolved from any further financial obligation. Huntoon wrote the Daily Press to express his appreciation for Bogey's help.

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To seek Michael Boguslawski's help, write a letter that clearly and concisely describes the problem, with your full name, mailing address, daytime phone number and email address, if available. Include the name, address and phone number for the opposing party. Include a statement granting Boguslawski full permission to investigate and handle the case under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and related laws.

Boguslawski's services are free of charge, but only select letters will be chosen for investigation and follow-up. Absolutely no phone calls, please. Letters may be sent to “Bogey,” Daily Press Consumer Advocate, 2645 N.E. 32nd St., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306.

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