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State officials deny plans call for closing of Potomac Center

June 30, 2005|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

tarar@herald-mail.com

Maryland officials said Wednesday there are no plans to close a Hagerstown center for the mentally disabled, and dismissed a report posted on a state Web site that recommends the facility be shut down.

State Sen. Donald Munson said the state has no plans "in the foreseeable future" to close the Potomac Center on Marshall Street.

"The department, at this time - we're not planning to close the Potomac Center," a spokesman for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said. "That's in 2005. I can't say what will happen 10, 20, 30 years down the road."

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The spokesman said he was not authorized to give his name.

A fiscal year 2006 budget analysis by the Department of Legislative Services, accessible through the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Web site, recommends that the center be closed in the same fiscal year to save money.

The page states the document last was modified on June 1.

Fiscal year 2006 begins on July 1 and ends June 30, 2006.

The spokesman said the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had nothing to do with the report.

Munson, R-Washington, said the report wasn't valid and that he didn't know why it would appear on a state Web site. He said he had not seen the site.

Munson has been an advocate of keeping the center open.

"If something's on a Web site that (references the report), that needs to be taken down," Munson said.

The state considered closing the Potomac Center in 2004 to save money, but later decided against it.

Munson said the cost of closing the center would exceed the cost of keeping it open.

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary S. Anthony McCann plans to visit the Potomac Center Friday at 1:15 p.m. The visit is part of a scheduled tour of Western Maryland.

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