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Delegate speaks to Council

August 28, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

Del. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George's, told the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday it should consider replacing the housing projects in the Jonathan Street community with single-family homes or condominiums to combat drug problems.

"If your eyes are closed, I am asking you to open them," she said.

Benson, who spoke during the citizens' comments portion of the meeting, said she drove back to her hometown Tuesday night to implore the council to take action on a property adjacent to a relative's house on Jonathan Street.

But she also said it "hurts me" to return to Hagerstown to see what is happening in the Jonathan Street area projects, which she called "a breeding grounds for drugs."

She also said there is a "drug infestation" in the area.

If Hagerstown City Police check, they probably would find that a majority of crimes occurs in housing projects, she said.

Benson said she will meet with the Maryland lieutenant governor in the next few weeks and will mention her concerns about Hagerstown during that meeting.

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Looking at the council members, including Councilwoman Penny May Nigh, she emphasized that not everyone in public housing projects is "bad" and that some have major success stories.

On July 22, Nigh criticized Section 8 tenants during a Hagerstown City Council meeting, saying "all Section 8 people are not bad, but three-fourths of them are."

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