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January 11, 2023

Money from omnibus bill is an investment in the community

Credit: Frederick News Post

Frederick County institutions and governments are beginning to see the benefits of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in December.

Frederick County government will receive $1.8 million and Hood College will get another $1 million. The money will go to worthwhile projects outside the financial capabilities of the county and the college.

The county is expected to use most of the federal funding for equipment for its emergency operations center and a crisis stabilization center. The funds will also help pay for the Frederick and Pennsylvania Line Railroad Trail, according to a press release.

The emergency operations center functions as a command center during major emergencies. The current center is in a space previously used as a training classroom, which is not large enough to accommodate the personnel needed to manage large-scale emergencies, the county said. The cost will be about $870,000.

The county Health Department is planning a crisis stabilization center to be built at 340 Montevue Lane in Frederick, the offices that currently house the county’s Board of Elections.

The center will be an alternative to the hospital emergency room for people experiencing a behavioral health emergency, including substance abuse disorders and mental illnesses. It is expected to open this summer. Nearly $700,000 of the federal grant money will pay for equipment.

The belief is that the center will lower health care costs for patients and reduce the burden on first responders and the emergency department at Frederick Health Hospital.

The final portion of the county’s grant money — about $280,000 — will be used for the engineering and design portion of the Frederick and Pennsylvania Line Railroad Trail. When finished, the trail will connect Frederick and Walkersville for walkers and bicyclists.

Hood College plans to use its $1 million grant for its new Data Driven Frederick Center and its Biomedical Research and Training Center.

The Data Driven Frederick project will “collect, aggregate and make available vital data and regional indicators” about Frederick County, the college’s press release said. It will be housed at the George B. Delaplaine Jr. School of Business.

David Gurzick, an associate professor of management science at Hood and chair of the Delaplaine School, told the News-Post last year that a wide variety of data is publicly available, such as the number of building permits issued by the county or demographic information that nonprofit organizations collect about their clients. But, until now, it has never been pulled together to be analyzed.

This center will allow students and faculty to conduct research and then give governments, businesses, nonprofits and citizens access to a wide array of solid information to help guide decisions. It will be a welcome addition to the community.

The other Hood project is the Biomedical Research and Training Center, which will feature state-of-the-art laboratories and will enable the college to offer training for Hood students, as well as students from other regional colleges and employees of local companies, the college said.

The facility will be built as part of a 32,000-square-foot addition to the current Hodson Science and Technology Center.

County Executive Jessica Fitzwater and Hood President Andrea Chapdelaine both expressed their gratitude to Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and to Reps. David Trone and Jamie Raskin for their help in securing the funds.

The four Democrats all worked to have the Appropriations Committees include these projects in the bill.

This kind of spending is an investment in the future of our community and our nation. The projects will improve the functioning of local government, help save health care dollars, strengthen our educational institutions and help create the amenities that improve our quality of life.