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Friday Facts: Government Information You Can Use

This Week's Facts:

-Agency Spotlight: Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor

-USGS Enables Citizens to Track Water Levels, Draught Conditions

-Food Assistance Available for Families Facing Hard Time

-Library of Congress Launches Influential Book Exhibit

-July is National Ice Cream Month

Indiana Market Maker

Indiana Market Maker is a resource for consumers as well as farmers and entrepreneurs to find out about farms, fisheries, wineries, and more. MarketMaker is a national partnership of land grant institutions and State Departments of Agriculture dedicated to the development of a comprehensive interactive database of food industry marketing and business data. Put simply, MarketMaker is a platform that seeks to foster business relationships between producers and consumers of food industry products and services. Consumers and the curious can find information on agritourism, retail establishments buyers, farmers, farmers markets, and many other categories. There’s a section of the website for Market Research, and if you’re an entrepreneur, you can register your business so others can find out about you and participate in the buy and sell forum. These and many other helpful tools are available on this website.   Hoosiers as well as consumers from all around the United States will find a variety of local businesses and farms to help jumpstart local economies.     

July is Ice Cream Month

Are your patrons looking for another way to keep cool? In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as national ice cream month. The USDA spotlights it on their webpage this month and provides a link to its Standard for Ice Cream, effective October 29, 1977. For a look at the best local shops around Indiana, check out the Visit Indiana’s Best of Indiana results. Ice cream’s not the only option, of course – frozen yogurt, popsicles, and lots of icy novelties are available at your local grocery. Eat up and stay cool!

Friday Facts Editorial Team:

Katharine Springer
State Data Center Coordinator

Elisabeth Hedges
Federal Documents Librarian

Kim Brown-Harden
State Documents Coordinator

Indiana Federal Depository Library Program

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Agency Spotlight: Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor

Indiana Office of Utility Consumer CounselorThe Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is one of the oldest state agencies of its type in the United States. Created in 1933 by the Indiana General Assembly, the agency was initially the Office of Public Counselor.

In 1981, the General Assembly replaced the Public Counselor's Office with the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor. Appointed by the Governor, the Consumer Counselor serves a four-year term. Since the appointment of Sherman Minton of New Albany in 1933, there have been a total of 23 Utility Consumer Counselors from towns and cities throughout the state. David Stippler became Indiana’s current Utility Consumer Counselor in March 2008. Having specialized in public utility law throughout most of his career, Mr. Stippler has 39 years of experience as a practicing Indiana attorney. He oversees a dedicated 50-member staff, including attorneys, analysts, engineers and additional employees who represent Indiana’s residential, commercial and industrial ratepayers in state and federal utility regulatory proceedings.

The OUCC is the state agency representing utility ratepayer interests (including residential and business consumer interests) in cases before state and federal regulatory commissions.  They also represent the interests of residential, commercial, and industrial utility customers in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Indiana Court of Appeals & Indiana Supreme Court.

In addition to its regulatory duties, the OUCC helps Indiana citizens save money on utility costs by providing tips and resources on their website, which offers a wealth of information that will help you learn more about utility services. The OUCC also represents consumer interests in cases before state and federal utility regulatory commissions.

Last year, the OUCC’s efforts helped save Hoosier utility ratepayers more than $162 million. You can learn more online about the agency’s work on behalf of consumers and keep track of cases that directly affect you or follow the OUCC on Twitter (@IndianaOUCC) for case updates, energy saving tips, and much more!

USGS Enables Citizens to Track Water Levels, Draught Conditions 

USGS Water Data for the NationIt’s common knowledge that Indiana (and most of the Midwest) is in the middle of a dry spell. Have you ever wondered, though, how much water is actually available, or what is average for this time of year? The US Geological Survey has a database that can help answer these very questions. Their USGS Water Data for the Nation website allows you to look up groundwater levels, surface water levels, and water-quality data. You can get real-time information as well as historical data, thus allowing you to compare different years and locations. The database is a good source of information, but it may not be the easiest for the casual researcher to navigate. However, if you have a patron interested in detailed information about past and present water levels, this site is an excellent place to go. If it’s rainfall you’re interested in, NOAA’s National Weather Service is a good place to visit. Check out their interactive map and click on Precipitation to see where the country

Food Assistance Available for Families Facing Hard Times

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance ProgramWith the rising cost of food, feeding a family on a budget isn’t easy, but there are resources that can help. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, provides eligible families with help purchasing food. Find out if you’re eligible and apply for the SNAP program. If you’re eligible, you’ll receive an electronic benefits card, pre-loaded with your benefits, that you can use like a credit or debit card at the store.

Many states also run food banks where you can get food for your family. Check your state’s website to see what is available in your community and to find out if you need to make an appointment to visit the food bank. To learn about all the food assistance programs that may be available to you and your family, read How To Get Food Help from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Find more information on feeding your family on a budget.

To learn about other free resources to help you no matter what your financial situation, sign up for our e-mail list or visit our page.

This article is brought to you as a courtesy of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) via the blog.

Library of Congress Launches Influential Book Exhibit

Books that Shaped AmericaThe Library of Congress recently launched a new exhibition about Books That Shaped America. It features influential books that were written by Americans, such as:

  • Catch-22
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • The Great Gatsby
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Little Women
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Currently, there are 88 books on the list and the Library of Congress hopes you will select the ones that you think shaped America and touched your life the most. They also want you to nominate books that you think are important, but aren’t on the list.

View the list of books that shaped America & then take the survey to share your thoughts.

This article is brought to you as a courtesy of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) via the blog.


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