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Snook says research center will stay put

May 06, 2006|By TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

A Johns Hopkins research center will remain at the Washington County Health Department, County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Friday.

William Christoffel, health officer for the Health Department, asked the George W. Comstock Center for Public Health Research and Prevention to move out by the end of September because he needed the space for the Health Department.

But Snook said the County Commissioners will abide by a 1967 agreement signed by the commissioners, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene - now called the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health - and the Maryland State Health Department.

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The agreement states the county will make sure space is available in the Health Department building as long as necessary.

The county owns the building, but leases it to the Health Department. The department subleases it to the research center.

"In order to assure the continuation of this program which is of mutual benefit to all parties concerned, the Washington County Commissioners agree that sufficient space will continue to be made available at the Coffman Research Laboratory (Health Department) as long as the program exists," the agreement states.

County Attorney Richard Douglas said Thursday the county did not have a copy of the agreement until it was faxed to him by The Herald-Mail. He said he wasn't sure if the 39-year-old agreement still was valid.

Because the commissioners lease the building to the Health Department, Douglas said it was unlikely they could do anything to prevent Christoffel from asking the Johns Hopkins research center to leave.

Snook, however, said after reading the agreement Friday morning that he determined it was still in effect, and that the research center would be staying put.

The Health Department will negotiate a new rent price for the research center, he said.

"In order to assure the continuation of this program which is of mutual benefit to all parties concerned, the Washington County Commissioners agree that sufficient space will continue to be made available at the Coffman Research Laboratory (Health Department) as long as the program exists."

-- statement from the Wasington County Commissioners

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