Dev. Center Raises More Than $200,000

SNOW HILL – Since a devastating fire destroyed the
Worcester County Developmental Center (WCDC) building last fall, the center has
received over $200,000 in donations toward a new building, director June Walker
reported this week.

“We’ve been in the news a lot lately. People are
starting to know who we are and what we do,” said Walker. “There are some good things that
happened as a result of that fire. They’ve helped us raise over $200,000 for
our emergency fund, most of which will go into the capital budget.”

Fundraising and planning for the
new developmental center was already in process when the fire burned down the
previous building, and if all goes well, will be under construction in late
2009. The work is projected to cost over $9 million.

No one was hurt in the Sept. 4
fire, which broke out mid-afternoon in a storage closet. No clients were in the
center that day.

The center will also be able to
put a $1.5 million Maryland Board of Public Works capital grant towards their
capital campaign for the new building. The County Commissioners
approved acceptance of the grant on behalf of WCDC this week.

Walker reported that the first annual
fundraising campaign in 2007 was successful and reached its goal. Half the
necessary funds have been committed, from state bond bills, Maryland
and Worcester County grants, insurance, and donations
to the emergency fund.

“The capital campaign budget is
very aggressive and very optimistic,” said Walker. “We feel we can obtain this goal.”

The ambitious capital campaign
for the new developmental center will begin soon, she said.

Part of the necessary funding
will come from the sale of WCDC property in Berlin, at the intersection of Route 113 and
Germantown Rd.
where the center intended to build the new facility, before running into sewer
service limitations.

“Due to the EDU situation, the
water and sewer problems in Berlin,
we won’t be building there. We’ll be building where the old building was, that
the fire burnt,” Walker

The Newark location “is where we should be. It’s
going to be a lot safer,” Walker
said. She added, “The community accepts us and loves us for what we are.”

That’ a decision one
commissioner said was the right move.

“I commend you for coming back
to Newark to
put the new building,” Commissioner Louise Gulyas said.

Gukyas said she has heard from
many parents and clients who want to stay at that site.

WCDC should realize a profit
from the sale of the Berlin property,
according to Walker.

Commissioner Bobby Cowger
expressed concern Tuesday that WCDC might not get back what it spent on the
sale. Worcester County made a $300,000 grant to the
developmental center to help buy that land. Cowger said he wanted to make sure
the land was not given away at a loss.

“We’ve already had an appraisal

done and it’s quite a bit higher than we originally paid,” Walker said. “The fair market value of the

property is a lot higher than when we purchased it.”

The center bought the land in
2002, but decided in January 2007 to no longer pursue a new building at the
site, and to construct the new facility in Newark. The previous owners, Germantown
Development Co., have right of first refusal on the sale and are interested in
buying the land back, Walker

Until the new building is built,
WCDC will be housed in Snow Hill, in an old warehouse space adapted for the
center by owner Royal Plus, Inc.

“Our temporary location is
working out very well,” Walker
said. “It’s a little smaller than we’re used to. We’re settling in very well.”

She added, with a laugh, “It’s a
lot prettier than we’re used to.”