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Funds sought to run campus

October 17, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce has asked local businesses to write Gov. Robert Ehrlich requesting that money for operational costs for the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center be included in the state's budget for the next fiscal year.

The center is scheduled to start offering classes from several system institutions in January 2005 if it has the money to operate.

The center will be in the former Baldwin House complex downtown.

"Funds to build our new University Center in Hagerstown are assured. The funds we need to start teaching students are not," Chamber President Fred Teeter wrote in an Oct. 15 letter to Chamber members. "Please help by asking the Governor for funds to open and operate the Center next year."

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Teeter said by phone Thursday that operational funding for the University System is discussed regularly at Chamber meetings.

"We just want to make sure it gets in (the fiscal 2005 budget)," he said.

The Hagerstown City Council said this week that it wants the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to make sure $1 million is set aside in the state's budget for operating costs.

Malinda West, of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, said there is no guarantee that the state will provide money for the center's operations.

"The governor will have to decide, based on his enormous priorities, if, when and how much of the project can be funded," she said.

Teeter said he thinks that without money for startup and operational costs, the center probably would open with limited educational services. He said it's possible Frostburg State University would be the only school operating out of the facility.

"Frostburg is only a piece of it," Teeter said.

The delegation already has begun its push for Ehrlich to include money in the budget for operational costs.

"It is imperative that we continue our progress and get this facility up and running as soon as possible. There is a large demand for these classes among students and the business community and we want to keep this momentum going," the delegation wrote in an Oct. 1 letter to Ehrlich.

The delegation stated the center will make education affordable and accessible to area residents.

"For too long now, our students have been forced to travel to out-of-state institutions to pursue their undergraduate and graduate degrees," the delegation wrote. "Now they will have several world-class institutions minutes from their homes."

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