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Community service funding in jeopardy

Lisa Horowitz works at the Community Computer and Employment Resource Center at Plattsburgh Public Library.

Lisa Horowitz works at the Community Computer and Employment Resource Center at Plattsburgh Public Library. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

PLATTSBURGH – Lisa Horowitz needed to write an individualized major proposal to the State University of New York for sports psychology.

But she doesn’t have a computer, so she stopped at the Community Computer and Employment Resource Center at Plattsburgh Public Library.

“I can just do my work from here and it will only take a few hours,” she said. “This is really helpful.”

That resource, which has helped thousands, may soon disappear if the center does not find funding before Sept. 30.

“We are really at crunch time,” said Workforce Adviser Kellie Lathrop. “We would hate to close the doors.”

The center opened in October 2010 to assist the unemployed, under-employed, seniors and people with disabilities develop workplace skills.

“People come in and do job searches, work on resumes, do group workshops and so much more,” Lathrop said. “It is such a great service for the community.”

The center received roughly $212,000 in funding for two years through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That was part of a one-time grant that enabled the New York State Department of Education Division of Libraries to help create 33 such centers statewide.

The Resource Center at Plattsburgh Public Library was able to acquire equipment and infrastructure, including Internet capability, color printers, 12 high-speed broadband computers and a digital literacy workshop.

The funds further covered the salaries of workforce advisers.

The center has served nearly 7,000 people.

“We are almost full every day,” Lathrop said. “There are not many places to go for free workshops.”

The center has been denied some grants it has applied for and is waiting on others.

The focus is on finding funds from a public/private partnership.

It would cost around $100,000 yearly to maintain the current staff and operations.

Jonathan MacAbee of Plattsburgh hopes it remains open.

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