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YMCA grant is top priority of delegates

March 08, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County Delegates have put the Hagerstown YMCA at the top of the list to get a grant through the Maryland General Assembly's bond bill program this year.

The YMCA got $500,000 through the program last year and is seeking another $500,000 this year.

"We're really quite happy about that. We've worked real hard the last couple of years. Certainly that's going to help us a lot," said YMCA Executive Director Michael Flicek.

Each of the six delegates ranked the projects and Delegation Chairman Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, formed the following priority list:

1. $500,000 for the Hagerstown YMCA's new building off Eastern Boulevard.

2. $125,000 for the Humane Society of Washington County's new animal shelter.

3. $150,000 for improvements at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

4. $75,000 for improvements at Washington County Children's Village.

5. $122,752 for an outdoor sports facility for the Police Athletic League at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

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6. $150,000 for pavilions at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, and Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, have yet to prioritize the requests.

Should their priorities be different from that of the delegates, the matter would go to a conference committee.

Counties across the state are competing for about $20 million in the bond bill program, under which the state borrows money on behalf of nonprofits seeking matching grants.

Budget committees in the House and Senate will determine which groups get money before the end of the legislative session April 10.

Lawmakers said they felt the YMCA deserved top billing because of strong community support and to fulfill a commitment they made last year.

"I just feel the YMCA has worked hard, raising $4.8 million," said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

McKee said he considered community need and which organizations were best prepared to match the state's grant.

Private health clubs are objecting to a proposal to spend Washington County tax money on the YMCA, but lawmakers weren't put off by that.

"I think it's a different debate entirely," Shank said.

The City of Hagerstown's request for Fairgrounds money ranked last because lawmakers questioned whether it's fair for a municipality to compete against charities.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II downplayed the ranking.

"It's not a big deal to me," Bruchey said.

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