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Tip-jar proceeds, grant requests both decline

August 01, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Dozens of nonprofit groups are poised for Washington County's annual distribution of tip-jar proceeds, which will be announced Tuesday.

This year, the Washington County Gaming Commission will give out $2.24 million collected in the county through tip-jar gaming. By statute, half will go to the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association. The other half will be divided among local nonprofit groups that applied for money for operations or specific projects.

The amount of money to be awarded from fiscal year 2009 proceeds is down about 15 percent from the fiscal year 2008 total of $2.64 million.

Requests are down by a greater amount -- about 20 percent -- from $3.29 million last year to $2.65 million this year.

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The Washington County Community Action Council (CAC) applied for $50,000 last year and received $30,000. Executive Director David Jordan said the money paid for building operations, such as heat and electricity, plus a part-time maintenance worker.

The grant helped CAC -- which asked for $50,000 this year -- direct as much money as it could to clients, he said.

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra applied twice last year (multiple requests, for different purposes, are allowed). The MSO asked for $20,400 for its annual Salute to Independence concert at Antietam National Battlefield and $15,100 for music education.

It didn't receive any money, which MSO Executive Director Andrew Kipe said was unusual. Before last year, the MSO received anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 per year since 1996, he said.

This year, the symphony asked again for $20,400 for the Salute, plus $12,850 for educational programs, such as Kinder Concerts for kindergarten-aged children and classroom performances for other students.

The Boys & Girls Club of Washington County had mixed success last year.

It didn't get any of the $48,000 it requested to help build a new center at Noland Village in Hagerstown.

So far, the club has raised about $200,000 of the $2.5 million it will need for the center, Director of Development Buck Browning said.

For transportation, the club asked for $52,000 last year and received $40,000. Browning said the club helps children get to its programs, goes on field trips and takes high school juniors and seniors to visit colleges.

The club cuts its total request this year to $52,000, down from $100,000 last year.

"We thought, 'Let's be realistic,'" Browning said.

Last year, the Humane Society of Washington County submitted three requests, for a total of $195,140. It didn't receive any money.

The largest request -- $115,640 -- was to buy an RV-style outreach center for spaying, neutering and adopting animals. That idea is on hold for now, Executive Director Paul Miller said.

Another $70,000 would have been used for a spay and neuter assistance program for low-income residents.

The remaining $9,500 was for buying a livestock trailer to transport large animals. Without a trailer, the Humane Society has a list of people or organizations willing to help, if they're available.

Miller said Thursday the Humane Society has found other grant money and expects to buy the trailer.

The Humane Society is seeking $49,947 this year to enclose an outdoor kennel area, spokeswoman Katherine Cooker said.

The South Hagerstown High School Rebel Band Boosters applied for $5,000 this year. President Laura Horning said the money would pay for students to travel to competitions; the group hopes to avoid increasing fees.

South High has the highest rate of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals among the county's high schools, she said.

The boosters asked for $95,866 last year, but didn't get any money.

Some organizations got everything they requested last year, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County ($35,000), REACH (Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless) Caregivers ($100,000), The Salvation Army ($45,000) and Regional Community Health Care Center, known as the Community Free Clinic (three requests totaling $175,000).

The Gaming Commission doesn't explain why some requests get money and others don't. According to its guidelines, the factors it considers include the type of community service, the number of people served, the cost per client, the group's long-term viability, the amount of money the organization gets from other sources and whether a representative appears before the commission to answer questions.

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