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Reality TV Show Stresses Oakridge

OAKRIDGE, Ore. — Oakridge residents are getting some much-needed cash as part of the ABC reality TV show Secret Millionaire.

But the process is putting some stress on city employees in charge of distributing the anonymous donations.

Oakridge has been dealing with money problems since thousands of dollars went missing from the city’s budget last summer. But for the past few days, the city has been dealing with a different financial burden, a good one some say, as the town is now the center of a generous ABC reality show.

Last October, a film crew showed up in Oakridge.

“They told a little white lie, said they were a documentary group and they were here to do a story about volunteers,” said Mayor Don Hampton.

What they were doing was shooting an episode of Secret Millionaire. The show is based on an anonymous donor giving a city more than $100,000.

The donor asked that some money be allocated to the Oakridge Fire Department and the other portion to the each of the almost 3,300 residents, which is where things get complicated.

“Giving out $100 per resident is somewhat of a headache,” Hampton said.

Every single resident–rug rat to retired–gets $100, but they have to show proof of residency during the time the show was shot.

The city announced the gift to residents in their water bills last Thursday, and ever since city hall has been packed with people turning in applications and are using just about anything to try to collect, from water and electric bills to internet subscriptions and report cards.

City employees say they feel they’ve only scratched the surface of this application process. They say they’ve received about 300 applications, and they could receive up to 3,000. They plan to be busy through the end of June when applications are due on June 29. The first checks are set to go out the first week of July.

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