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Washington Co. gaming revenue down 11.1% this year

About $2.6 million available for Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, charities, nonprofits

About $2.6 million available for Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, charities, nonprofits

August 06, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County Gaming Commission officials on Tuesday announced the recipients of the approximately $2.6 million in gaming revenue that was collected in fiscal 2008.

The amount collected was 11.1 percent less than the approximately $2.9 million collected in fiscal 2007.

Gaming Commission Director James B. Hovis suggested the decrease might be due, in part, to the economy.

"One can only speculate that the declining economy and rising energy costs have contributed to this decline," he said.

Hovis and Gaming Commission Chairwoman Penny Pittman provided information about the recipients during the Washington County Commissioners' meeting.

The gaming funds are raised through tip jar gambling at 118 bars, clubs and liquor stores across the county.

The money is distributed each year to the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, which receives half of the funds, and local charities and nonprofits, which receive the other half.

The fire and rescue association received $1.3 million this year, compared to $1.45 million last year. That money is divided equally among the county's 26 volunteer fire and rescue companies.

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The other half of the gaming revenue was divided among 82 charities and nonprofits. Of the 82 groups that were selected, 32 of their requests were fully funded.

The gaming panel received 133 separate applications from 109 charitable organizations who sought a total of nearly $3.3 million.

The Regional Community Health Center -- also known as the Community Free Clinic -- received the largest award of $175,000, the same amount it received last year.

Michael E. Stanford, a member of the clinic's board of directors, thanked the gaming commission Tuesday for the award.

"A third of our budget is funded by the gaming commission. We're on track to serve almost 16,000 patients this year. So really, a third of those patients have been served by the gaming commission," Stanford said.

Other recipients included REACH Caregivers, which was awarded $100,000; Friends of Safe Place, which received $66,303; Girls Inc.; which got $64,900; and Food Resources, which was awarded $53,364.

More than a dozen representatives from local nonprofits and charities were in the audience Tuesday to thank the gaming commission.

Maureen Grove, of Girls Inc., said the money helps the organization transport almost 100 children to the Girls Inc. center after school. The money also helps pay for hot evening meals for the children.

Dave Jordan, of the Washington County Community Action Council, which received $30,000 this year, said the gaming money helps pay for the group's building on Summit Avenue.

"If we didn't have a place to work out of, we wouldn't be able to provide the services we do," Jordan said.

Ruth Anne Callaham, of Food Resources, said that by funding one organization, the gaming commission is helping all of them because they are "interlinked."

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