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County Comment: County helps local and state agencies solve problems

County Comment
County helps local and state agencies solve problems
By Norman Bassett
Washington County Maryland Public Information Officer

Hagerstown. MD (May 30, 2012) - Two Washington County Agencies, the Community Grants Management Office and the Washington County Office on Disability Issues/Disability Advisory Committee, assisted a Williamsport, MD organization with a first of its kind training for law enforcement officers in April.
Providing Relief for Autistic Youth (PRAY) recently hosted the Autism Awareness Training on April 19, 2012 in partnership with Hagerstown Community College. Seventy-three law enforcement officers' emergency service responders, parents, teachers, government workers and family members attended the event, held in two sessions on April 19th.
The Washington County Gaming Commission awarded PRAY $3,697 to pay for the expenses associated with providing the training. The Gaming Commission derives its funding from Washington County's charitable gaming program administered by the Office of Community Grant Management.
In addition, when PRAY President Matt Dittman visited a meeting of the Washington County Disability Advisory Committee (DAC), the membership voted to support the organization by funding printing of the conference brochure through the Office on Disability Issues. DAC is an advisory group to the Board of County Commissioners, which monitors community needs and advises the Commissioners on such needs in the community. DAC partners with local and state disability agencies to assist with events of this nature.
Police from 22 agencies across Maryland, including the Washington County Sheriff's Department the U.S, Marshals Service, as well as the Maryland Attorney General's Office attended the event. A bill underscored the importance of proper recognition of people with autism by law enforcement in the recent legislative session that would require such training for police officers.
PRAY connected with the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission and was able to have information about the seminar disseminated to law enforcement agencies statewide.
Office of Community Grant Management (OCGM) Director Jim Hovis said, "this training is the result of a small grass roots effort of a few parents to address a very important issue. These parents should be commended for their efforts and proud of the results.
Being a newly formed charity with very limited funds, their ability to obtain grants on the federal or state level was very unlikely. Because of the Gaming Commission's ability and willingness to provide "seed" money to this organization, a necessary service was provided which could possibly save someone's life.
This is a prime example of why local control of charitable gaming revenues works. The local Gaming Commission was able to identify a need in the community and address that need effectively and efficiently with the necessary funding," Hovis said.
Ninety-eight local charities like PRAY received funding from the Gaming Commission in 2011-12.
In reporting on the activity to CGM, Dittman thanked the County agencies for their support and provided in-depth information regarding attendance and reaching stated goals. In addition, opportunities may be forthcoming for making additional presentations at the local and state level.
Autism has received much attention in national media recently, and the State of Maryland's law enforcement community is recognizing the importance of providing proper services to people who have the disability.
The Washington County Disability Advisory Committee meets on the second Wednesday of each month from 3-4:30 p.m. in room 255 of the County Administration Building, at 100 West Washington Street in Hagerstown. The public is invited to attend. Persons interested in serving on the Committee should apply on line at

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