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Local projects get state grants

March 26, 2001

Local projects get state grants



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Three Washington County community projects are on their way to getting $1 million in state grants this year.

A Maryland House of Delegates committee has proposed giving:

- $300,000 to the American Red Cross of Washington County to build a new headquarters off Eastern Boulevard in Hagerstown. The organization requested $600,000.

- $275,000 to the city of Hagerstown to develop an arts and entertainment district downtown. The grant is to be matched by the city and county governments.

- $470,000 to Washington County Health Systems Inc. to finish renovations at its Walnut Street Community Health Center.

One project, Discovery Station, got shut out of this round of funding. Money for the children's interactive science center could still be included when the Senate makes its decisions about the grants in the coming week.

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"We knew there was going to be a lot of competition. Given that there's still an opportunity for us in the Senate, we're going to concentrate our efforts," said Discovery Station Treasurer David Barnhart.

The fledgling nonprofit only has $6,000 right now toward the renovation of its building at 58 E. Washington St., but a dedicated group of volunteers just started a fund-raising campaign, he said.

Statewide, there were $101 million in requests for local projects, which lawmakers pared down to $27 million.

Even though the Red Cross request was cut in half, Executive Director Julie Barr-Strasburg said she was satisfied.

"It's half the battle once you go through the House. I'm pleased that the delegation was able to support it this much," she said.

The Red Cross has outgrown its 2,400-square-foot headquarters at 113 S. Prospect St. in Hagerstown.

The nonprofit has chosen a 5.4-acre site for a 14,000-square-foot building. The extra space will allow the Red Cross to accept walk-in blood donors and establish a disaster command center.

The nonprofit may seek another state grant next year to finish its $2 million project, she said.

The Washington County delegation to the General Assembly decides each year which projects to support for the state's bond bill program.

Under the program, the state borrows money on behalf of local nonprofits, which are required to match the funds.

Over the last four years, Washington County has been approved for an average of $400,000 a year, compared to $575,000 this year. That figure does not include the hospital grant, which does not compete with the other local projects.

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