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Attorney releases details of state grant

April 02, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

After claiming state grant information could not be publicly divulged, Washington County Attorney Richard Douglas switched course Tuesday and released part of the information.

Andy Smith, president of Brothers United Who Dare to Care, had requested from Douglas in February the financial records and grant application for a $75,000 state grant awarded to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington County.

Washington County Community Partnership received the grant from the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention in December and awarded it to the Boys & Girls Clubs.

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The grant is for a high school-age program being offered at the Bethel Gardens Community Center. The program is aimed at developing leadership capabilities in 14- to 18-year-olds, decreasing substance abuse and rates of unprotected sex and helping students achieve specific educational and career goals.

Smith stated in his request that Brothers United was concerned that only a portion of the grant would go to the program and the rest would be placed in the Boys & Girls Clubs' budget.

Douglas denied Smith's request in February, saying the financial documents contain trade secrets and confidential commercial and financial information. In a story in last Friday's Morning Herald, he was quoted as saying the information wasn't Smith's business.

But on Tuesday, Douglas released the grant's financial records to Smith, saying he became aware of the program's budget, which is public information. Douglas said he found out about the document after speaking with representatives of the Washington County Community Partnership.

"I was not aware of this document when I prepared the original release," Douglas wrote Tuesday in a letter to Smith.

The budget contains a breakdown of the $75,000 grant. Of that amount, $41,200 has been allocated for personnel costs, $5,000 for teen conferences and $2,000 for transportation, among other expenses.

Smith said he was pleased that the financial breakdown of the grant was released, but he was not happy with Douglas' comments last week that it was none of his business.

"I'm not pleased with his response at all," Smith said.

Smith said he would like to meet with county officials to discuss the matter.

Jim Deaner, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Jenny Belliotti, chair of the Washington County Community Partnership Board, said the situation resulted from a breakdown in communication.

"It's important that people feel what we're doing is open," Belliotti said.

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