Wicomico County Leaders Vow to Keep Hazel Center Open - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Leaders Vow to Keep Hazel Center Open

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Richard Hazel Youth Center in Wicomico County. (Photo: WBOC) Richard Hazel Youth Center in Wicomico County. (Photo: WBOC)

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. - Wicomico County leaders said the longest the Richard Hazel Center on Salisbury's west side will be closed is 30 days.  If needed, Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver, told WBOC the county will step in to keep the doors open and programs running.

Keeping the doors open and the youth programs running at the Salvation Army Richard Hazel Youth Center has become a top priority for Maryland State Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes.

"It has been beneficial to them from many standpoints.  It has served as the gap for a person not having a family.  Young people needing to have that extra mentor.  Or have that safe haven, that's literally what the center is for children," Delegate Sample-Hughes told WBOC on Tuesday.

According to local Salvation Army leaders, the Richard Hazel Center costs up to $150,000 annually to operate.  Last week, Youth Club Director at the center, Willie Downing, told WBOC if nothing changes, the youth center could close its doors in September.

However, Sample-Hughes said she has had talks with Salvation Army leadership at the state level in Baltimore who said the center would not be closing at all.  Then today, Major Vic Tidman of the Salvation Army in Salisbury said they are currently not planning to close the center and are still seeking the additional funding needed to keep the center operational.

"Hazel's Haven committee has decided on a fundraiser and they are still going to move forward because again, it's about the children and about the resources that need to be put in place," Sample-Hughes said.

However, if things go south, funding cannot be secured, and the center is forced to close its doors, County Executive Bob Culver said there is nothing to fear if the center does end up closing.

"If something happens to the facility and closes for 30 days, it reverts back to the county.  We stepped in to let the citizens know that we're not going to let it close any more than 30 days.  We ave to go by the lease, but we are behind Sheree and Hazel's Haven to keep it going and keep all the programs and operations that are currently existing now," Culver said.

Sample-Hughes said she anticipates having a formal letter from Maryland Salvation Army leadership within the next week to two weeks about the future of the Richard Hazel Youth Center.

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