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Council seeks PAL reversal

July 16, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

After criticizing Washington County officials Tuesday, Hagerstown City Council members called on the county to reverse an earlier decision and restore funding for an after-school mentoring program provided by the Police Athletic League (PAL).

"I think they owe us some reconsideration of this matter," Mayor William M. Breichner said during Tuesday's council meeting.

The city will send a letter to the county asking for the program to again receive funding from the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families without having to reapply for a grant, city officials said.

City Police Officer Brett McKoy, who became PAL's full-time coordinator in September 2002, has said he wasn't given a "fair shake" regarding the grant, which paid $43,479 for his salary.

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At its June 20 meeting, the Community Partnership board was told that staff members had decided funding for the PAL program should be cut because the program was not meeting state requirements, Director Stephanie Stone has said. She said she met with County Administrator Rodney Shoop, who agreed with the decision.

The county government group, created by the state, obtains government grants to fund programs to help local residents.

During Tuesday's council meeting, Breichner said Shoop should have called City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman to explain why funding of the program was ending. The city was not officially notified of the change until June 27, the day a newspaper story on the matter ran.

Council members questioned why Shoop was making that decision for the County Commissioners, who have said they did not know about the decision until after the June 20 meeting.

"Rod (Shoop) overstepped. I have a problem with that," Councilwoman Penny May Nigh said. She questioned whether Shoop had the right to make that decision on the commissioners' behalf.

"The process did not work the way it was supposed to," Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said.

"We can talk about process all day long but there was just a gross failure to communicate from the county to the city," Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said.

Shoop, reached after Tuesday's meeting, said it would not be appropriate to respond to the council comments.

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