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Former factory to house shelter and nonprofits

November 06, 2004|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A $350,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant to the City of Hagerstown has been approved for use by Aspiring to Serve Inc., a nonprofit group renovating the former Cannon Shoe factory on West Franklin Street to house an emergency shelter and other nonprofit agencies.

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., announced the grant this week from his Washington office.

Aspiring to Serve, a ministry of Christ Reformed United Church of Christ on West Franklin Street, asked the city to act as applicant for the grant, according to Larry Bayer, manager of the city's community development department. He said ARC preferred to go through local governments because of its familiarity with reporting requirements.

The city agreed to act as applicant in August.

When completed, the building will house the cold weather shelter run each winter by REACH as well as Washington County's Women, Infants and Children program and other agencies.

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Tom Newell, capital campaign chairman for REACH - Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless - said the ARC money will enable other agencies to occupy the space.

"It certainly helps the whole project and the whole downtown," he said. "That's terrific."

Bayer said the city also has agreed to make a $160,000 loan to Aspiring to Serve. The city is lending the money at a 5 1/2 percent interest rate for 20 years. Payments have been deferred for the first five years, Bayer said, and the city expects to go to settlement on the loan this month.

REACH officials have said they hope to make the building the shelter's permanent home in February. Meanwhile, the shelter will continue to rotate among city churches. It is scheduled to open Nov. 14 at First Christian Church at 1345 Potomac Ave.

"This grant is a part of the Appalachian Regional Commission's successful record of investments in infrastructure," Bartlett said in a statement. "It is a great example of the federal and local government working with the private sector and cooperating with faith-based organizations in order to help the neediest of our citizens and to revitalize a neighborhood."

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