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Tip jar panel distributes $1.2 million

September 14, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

The Washington County Gaming Commission distributed $1.2 million to nearly 80 local charities Tuesday, with the biggest winner the financially strapped Community Free Clinic in Hagerstown.

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Between the Gaming Commission's $60,000 grant and $30,000 in donations, the clinic is no longer in danger of closing, said Director Lori Rice.

"I'm really pleased that they were so generous. I think that's just an indication of the need," she said.

Gaming Commission Chairman Lou Thomas said members were impressed by a tour of the clinic at 18 W. Franklin St.

The $60,000 grant was the largest in the Gaming Commission's history. In four years, the commission has distributed more than $6.6 million in tip jar gambling profits to nonprofits.

Of the $1.2 million distributed Tuesday, 40 percent by law went to the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association and 3 percent went to the United Way.

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That left $709,811 to be divided among the 93 organizations that applied for grants.

"The process went smooth, as always," Thomas said.

The nonprofits were given a chance to make their cases for funding at a series of three public hearings, he said.

When the recipients were announced Tuesday, Parent Child Center Director Millie Lowman was eager to find out if her organization would get $25,000 for a new copier and two parent education programs.

"That's great. That's wonderful," Lowman beamed after reading the grant list that showed $15,000 for the Parent Child Center.

Three large grants of $45,000 each went to organizations that are raising funds for construction projects. The Washington County SPCA and the Hagerstown YMCA want new buildings. The Washington County Free Library is building a new branch in Clear Spring.

The Salvation Army got $45,000 to make up for its loss of United Way funds.

The charity was cut from the United Way fund drive because of conflicting fund-raising schedules. United Way member agencies are not allowed to ask for donations during the umbrella organization's annual campaign.

The Gaming Commission denied 14 of the applications, mostly because the organizations were not recognized as charities by the Internal Revenue Service, Thomas said.

"Our hands were tied," he said.

Some organizations did not get everything they asked for.

The Washington County Commission on Aging wanted $111,000 to help poor retirees pay for medicine. The agency got $10,000.

Executive Director Frederick Otto could not be reached for comment. But the program's advocates have said they would use whatever they received as seed money.

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