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Community briefs

October 12, 1997

WASHINGTON, D.C. - "I voted against the COLA for Congress because, as I've said before, until we balance the budget I don't think we deserve one," said U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.

The House passed the COLA as part of the Conference Report on the Treasury Department, Postal Services Appropriations Bill by a vote of 220 to 207. Bartlett voted "no" on the conference report.

Bartlett donates a substantial portion of his congressional salary to college scholarships for students at the 10 colleges in the 6th District. Since 1993, Bartlett's scholarship donations total more than $180,000.

Bartlett pledged to donate the full COLA amount, $3,073, to the Frederick County Crisis Pregnancy Center.

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A new program for the Hagerstown-Washington County community will help people who are aging or who have disabilities cope with everyday living skills. The Senior Assistive Technology Demonstration Center will celebrate its grand opening from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday in the lounge on the first floor of the Towers building at Potomac Towers. The event is free and open to the public.

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The center will feature a variety of self-help items that can assist with independent living.

The Western Maryland Assistive Technology/Partnership (WMATP), made up of a number of local and area agencies dealing with aging and disability issues is sponsoring the demonstrations site, designed to make people more familiar with simple, low-cost aids for daily living that often can mean the difference between living on one's own and needing assistive living services.

As people grow older, everyday living skills can become difficult. Simple things such as opening a jar, reaching for an item on a high shelf, or remembering to take medication may become problematic, and may lead to decrease in health and well-being. Many simple, low-cost solutions exist for these problems, but until now there has not been a central site in the community where people could go to get hands-on demonstrations and explanations of such gizmos and gadgets.

The Potomac Towers demonstration site is the result of year-long planning by the WMATP, made up of the Washington County Commission on Aging, the Washington County Free Library, the Western Maryland Regional Libraries, the Center for Technology in Education (CTE) at Johns Hopkins University, the Washington County Office on Disability Issues, Community Living, Inc. and the Hagerstown Housing Authority.

Volunteers from the Potomac Towers and Walnut Towers communities will operate the center, and have received training in Assistive Technology procedures from CTE. Hagerstown Housing Authority donated space for the center, and funding for equipment comes from a state Technology Assistance Program grant from the Governor's Office for Individuals with Disabilities. Both the Commission on Aging and the Office on Disability Issues serve as sites for information and referral services, and the libraries are housing collections of informational materials on assistive devices.

For more information on the demonstration center and its activities, call Norman Bassett at the Office on Disability Issues at 301-791-3383.

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The Community Housing Resource Board (CHRB) and the Greater Hagerstown Association of Realtors are sponsoring a hands-on workshop Tuesday, Oct. 21 for first time homebuyers.

This free workshop will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Cooperative Extension Service meeting room 1260 Maryland Ave., Hagerstown.

The workshop includes the video: "Fannie Mae Guide to Homeownership," which covers budgeting, selecting builder or realtor, how to apply for a mortgage, what happens at settlement and much more. The workshop will assist first time homebuyers understand all aspects of buying a home and obtaining a mortgage.

The workshop will be staffed by volunteers from the local Association of Realtors, local mortgage lenders and CHRB. There will be a question and answer session as well as time for individual worksheets and assistance.

Pre-registration is required by Friday, Oct. 17. Please call 739-9305 (TDD 793-6363) to register. Persons requiring special assistance should call by Wednesday, Oct. 15. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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