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Delegate says governor will pledge campus funding

April 02, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening will pledge $120,000 in planning money for a University of Maryland campus in Hagerstown, Del. Sue Hecht said Friday.

Although it's less money than Washington County officials had asked for, lawmakers say it commits the state to following through on the $12 million campus.

The governor's office would not confirm that the project is part of his soon-to-be-released supplemental budget.

But Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, said Glendening assured her the project will be in the budget. She talked to him Thursday night at a dinner that she and other legislators had with the governor.

"I'm pleased. I think it's definitely a step in the right direction. It's an excellent project and I'm glad the governor recognized that," said Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook.

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The county had originally asked the state for $800,000 in planning money for the proposed campus off the Downsville Pike exit of Interstate 70.

The county is putting in $500,000 and expects that businesses will pick up the rest of the planning costs, Snook said.

"One way or the other, we're going to keep this project going," he said.

Other Washington County lawmakers were thrilled with the news.

"That's wonderful. This definitely establishes a connection between this project and the state. We can't afford it ourselves," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Hecht said the governor was impressed with the amount of local support for the campus idea.

Allegheny Power has donated 20 acres for the campus next to its Friendship Technology Park.

"This project is probably the most important thing that's happened to Washington County since World War II," Munson said.

Delegation Chairman Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, said it proves what he has been saying, that the governor would not punish the delegation because a majority voted against his proposed $1-a-pack cigarette tax increase.

"The man looked at the project and he saw the merits," McKee said.

Hecht said she doesn't think the money for the Hagerstown campus will depend on whether the legislature ultimately passes the governor's proposed cigarette tax increase.

The House of Delegates passed the tax increase last week, with all but Hecht in the delegation voting against it. The Senate has not yet acted on the proposal.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said the delegation is doing a good job of bringing back money this session for the Hagerstown YMCA, which stands to get $500,000, and Washington County Hospital, which should get $870,000.

"Between the hospital bill I sponsored and the YMCA and university, we're faring very well," Donoghue said.

Hecht also said the governor's supplemental budget will have $750,000 for the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Md.

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