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Campus opening date now 2004

January 11, 2002

Campus opening date now 2004



By LAURA ERNDE
laurae@herald-mail.com


With construction delayed until July, the opening date for the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center has been pushed back to January 2004, officials said Thursday.

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University officials are working to offer some courses elsewhere in Hagerstown before then.

The University System had hoped to finish renovating the Baldwin House complex in downtown Hagerstown for the education center by the fall semester of 2003.

Gov. Parris Glendening had put $13.3 million for construction in this year's budget, but all but $870,000 was put on hold because of uncertain economic forecasts.

Glendening said Wednesday that the University System project will be fully funded in the 2003 state budget. The 2003 fiscal year begins in July.

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The state will borrow the money to pay for the project instead of paying for it out of existing state revenues.

Local lawmakers praised Glendening for the move, which they view as saving an important project in a tight budget year.

University System spokesman Chris Hart said the system is also happy about Glendening's announcement.

"We are excited to hear the news. We couldn't be more supportive of that," Hart said.

University System officials are still working out the details of offering courses by the original opening date of fall 2003, Hart said.

Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said the University System project will create renewed interest in downtown Hagerstown.

"We're very fortunate to have that project proceed. I think it's going to be the catalyst. It will bring commercial development," he said.

Local lawmakers said they will work to make sure the $12.4 million isn't cut from the budget, which must pass the Maryland General Assembly this legislative session.

Staff writer Dan Kulin contributed to this story.

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