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Former Scotland School could house veterans service center

May 24, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A plan emerging for the shuttered Scotland School for Veterans' Children would create a comprehensive service center where veterans could live, receive counseling, prepare for new jobs and send their children for an education.

The proposed Scotland Center for Veterans' Services would be funded by a nonprofit foundation, not by taxpayers' dollars. State Sen. Richard Alloway is talking to social clubs to gauge support for allocating to the center some revenue from their small games of chance.

"This isn't a plan that's ready for action," Alloway said. "It's a framework."

Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York, grew up within walking distance of the former school, which opened in the late 19th-century to educate children whose relatives served in the military. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell proposed closing the school in 2009 and the General Assembly upheld that plan.

Now, Alloway wants to see the campus north of Chambersburg undergo a rebirth before it falls into disrepair.

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"We've been trying to figure out what to do with those beautiful 186 acres in the middle of Scotland," he said.

Alloway talked to state Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland, last week about the plan. Kauffman called it "the best re-use idea I've heard" and the "first real attempt to bring this great facility back to life."

Chambersburg consulting firm Franklin Advisory donated its time to brainstorm re-use possibilities. Alloway said key aspects were serving veterans and operating services with private dollars.

What emerged was a four-part plan:

o Establish a veterans' home.

o Allow an existing counseling services company to expand on the property. This company would address things like post-traumatic stress disorder.

o Create a school.

"It would go back to the original mission of Scotland School to provide an education to the children of veterans," Alloway said.

o Develop a jobs assistance center.

Alloway is considering an amendment to House Bill 169, which would expand the amount of revenue charitable and civic organizations could take in from small games of chance. The bill says 60 percent of revenue must go to charity, and Alloway's planned amendment would take part of that 60 percent to support the veterans' center.

"One of the primary issues has always been funding. ... I definitely think it is a proposal that has merit," Kauffman said, saying the military-related clubs especially might appreciate their contributions going to the center.

Allan Pomeroy is president of the home association with Chambersburg's Landis-McCleaf Detachment of the Marine Corps League. He said veterans homes are scattered across Pennsylvania in cities like Philadelphia and Scranton.

"There's nothing centrally located in this area," he said.

The Chambersburg club emphatically supports expanding the payouts and revenue associated with small games of chance, Pomeroy said. It also supports a portion of the revenue being dedicated to veterans services across the state, he said.

Kauffman said he didn't think the proposed amendment would delay action on House Bill 169 in the Senate.

"To me, it just seems to be a small tweak," he said, noting that other legislative actions would be needed to establish the center.

Kauffman said he received notification Monday morning that Scotland School had been placed on the Pennsylvania Department of General Services list for disposal by the state. That would allow the governor's administration to market and sell the property as it sees fit.

"We will be uniting against allowing this administration carte blanche over the disposition of Scotland School," Kauffman said.

A lame duck governor who showed a "lack of overall care" for the school shouldn't be selling it, Kauffman said. The House and Senate can remove the property from the disposition list and probably will do so, he said.

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