News Across America: Oklahoma town outraged over water bill prices and Missouri cafe hires older workers to solve worker shortage

Morning In America

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Morning in America highlights communities from all across the country. Here are the top headlines you should know for Wednesday, Sept. 29.

Spencer, Oklahoma

Several residents in Spencer received water bills double, in some cases triple their usual rates.

The spikes began after the city installed new electronic smart meters in late spring. The new meters are intended to provide more accurate water usage readings, but many residents didn’t expect their new bills to spike so severely, calling them grossly inaccurate.

“I think it’s outrageous,” said resident Lisa Janloo. “Since they switched my old meter to a smart meter, my bill has spiked from a $60 water bill to over a $200 water bill.”

City of Spencer Councilwoman LaTonya Williams shared a bill with NewsNation affiliate KFOR from one resident in which $19,320.52 was billed for the month of August alone.

Williams said the bills don’t even show the water billing rate. City of Spencer Mayor Frank Calvin said he will recommend the city utilities department start putting the water billing rate on bills. 

Calvin said the problem is now fixed as of early Monday evening. He also said the city will reimburse anyone who overpaid on bills.

Ozark, Missouri

After struggling to find workers during the pandemic, a restaurant in Ozark opened its workforce up to the older generation.

Rosemary Griffin, the owner of Rosie Jo’s Cafe, said they struggled to find workers during the pandemic who would stay more than a few days.

The cafe now has several older staff members, like 81-year-old waitress Cora Jackson, giving them a full staff for the first time in months. Jackson said the dynamic of the old and young working together in the restaurant has been working well.

“We get along, we help each other,” Jackson said. “If this one needs help, or if that one needs help, we work together.”

Griffin said she encourages other restaurants struggling during the pandemic to give older workers a chance.

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