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Neighbors rally, pay man's $3,000 water bill

/ Source: The Associated Press

An 84-year-old man hit with a $3,000 quarterly water bill won't have to pay a dime. In one week, a drive to help Norman Beckman raised $4,027 as of Tuesday.

Organizers stopped accepting the contributions that were still coming in. "The donations ranged from $5 to $500," said Bryan Kassube, who started the drive. "I'm just floored we reached our goal in one week."

The big bill was for the period from Jan. 1 to March 31.

Beckman was not able to live in his home at the time, and in his absence water pipes froze, causing three leaks that allowed 44,700 cubic feet of water to go through the meter. Despite the large volume of water, no damage to the house was reported.

Kassube said he was mailing a check for $3,006 to the city water utility to cover the bill plus interest on the unpaid balance.

The rest goes to Beckman, who said he has plans for it.

"I want to give it to the Salvation Army," Beckman said, "but I'm going to wait until Dec. 5 when Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has promised to match donations to the Army's Red Kettle campaign."

Thrivent, an Appleton-based financial services organization, has announced it will match the red kettle donations made Dec. 5 in Wisconsin's Fox Valley, up to a total of $125,000.

Beckman said he felt humbled by the response to his problem.

"It tells me there are many ways we can be proud of this community," he said.