CRS' grant request rejected

February 15, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

See also: Gaming Commission list

The Washington County Gaming Commission Tuesday rejected a $200,000 request from the county's largest ambulance company to help defray the costs of rescuing poor people in Hagerstown.

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Community Rescue Service had counted on the grant as one piece of a plan to put the rescue company on solid financial footing after highly publicized difficulties over the last few years.

The Gaming Commission determined that CRS was not eligible for extra money because it already receives gambling funds through the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association.


The Gaming Commission, which distributes money collected from tip jars to charities and nonprofit groups, gave $657,275 to 73 different nonprofit programs.

"We try to take each agency as an individual, weigh their needs, and go from there," said Lou Thomas, chairman of the commission.

The Gaming Commission was created in 1995 to distribute money taxed on the profits of tip jars, a popular numbers game in Western Maryland. Most of the money comes from private clubs. Some bars and taverns also operate tip jars.

By law, the commission must give 40 percent of money collected to the Fire and Rescue Association, which divides the money equally among the volunteer fire and ambulance departments.

That figure was $451,735 this period.

The United Way gets 3 percent, or $20,328 this period.

For the remaining $657,275, Gaming Commission members sifted through 85 applications that requested a total of more than $1.5 million.

One of the big winners was the Community Free Clinic, which got $50,000 to purchase a computer, printer and other equipment, and $25,000 to help senior citizens pay for prescription drugs.

"This will play an important part in the life of the clinic this year, and we appreciate their support," said Jeffrey Downin, the clinic's business and marketing director.

The Hagerstown YMCA received $50,000 toward a new headquarters on Eastern Boulevard and $20,000 for its housing program.

The Salvation Army and Washington County Free Library got $45,000. The Salvation Army will use the money for meals for the poor and the library will use it for a planned branch in Clear Spring.

Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless received $30,000 to help fund the Cold Weather Shelter of Washington County.

A dozen organizations received no funding, either because the commission determined they were ineligible or unworthy.

Community Rescue Service, for instance, had asked for $200,000 to offset money it loses by providing services to poor people who cannot pay ambulance bills.

Christopher N. Amos, the company's chief operations officer, said he was disappointed by the commission's decision and would probably apply again this year.

"We will continue to ask wherever we can," he said.

Amos said CRS brought in more than $50,000 from a Christmas fund drive and may send volunteers door to door to help boost subscriptions to the ambulance service this year.

Four Star Gymnasts Association and Springfield Middle School Girls' Basketball League were turned down because they had not received tax-exempt status from the federal government.

The commission rejected requests by Homewood Model Programs and Ravenwood Lutheran Village because they are religious organizations, which are ineligible for tip jar funds.

The Hagerstown Community College Single Parent Program and North Hagerstown High School Band Boosters were turned down because they are connected to public educational organizations.

Antietam Skating Club, the Tri-State Reuse Center and the Washington County Human Development Council were rejected because the commissioners felt they did not demonstrate sufficient need.

The Washington County Mental Health Center's request would have duplicated services available elsewhere, Thomas said.

The Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly is expected to discuss possible changes to the Gaming Commission's funding formula today in Annapolis.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, has suggested limiting grants to no more than $35,000 or $40,000.

Staff Writer Laura Ernde contributed to this story.

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