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Oswegatchie supports psychiatric center

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HEUVELTON — Add the town of Oswegatchie to the list of those supporting continued operation of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg.

On Monday, the Town Council voted unanimously in favor of the city of Ogdensburg’s resolution to save the 123-year-old facility from closure by the state Office of Mental Health.

Today, three members of the board will be at the OMH-sponsored public listening tour stop from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the psychiatric hospital’s Unity Center.

Town Supervisor Alfred J. Nichols and board members Bruce O. LaRose and Michael Stoner have a message for the OMH officials.

Don’t reduce or eliminate the psychiatric center’s inpatient services and 520 jobs.

“That’s a lot of jobs,” Mr. Nichols said. “And there are a lot of people out there who need help.”

Mr. LaRose said he believes geography should be a key factor in persuading OMH to leave the psychiatric center alone.

“It’s the only facility that’s located north of the Thruway,” he said. “I think that’s kind of important.”

Mr. Nichols said shutting down the psychiatric center would force upon its displaced clients the inconvenience of having to travel long distances — to Syracuse or Utica, for example — to obtain their mental health services.

“How are they going to get there?” he asked.

Voting in favor of the resolution along with Mr. Nichols, Mr. LaRose and Mr. Stoner were board members Lillian O. LaRose and Kenneth A. Wilson.

A similar resolution was approved unanimously by the Ogdensburg City Council on Monday night.

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