The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine has reached an agreement to give Erie County (Pa.) government $500,000 over five years. The county will use the funds for two important projects supporting emergency services and the county library. The announcement was made by Erie County Executive Barry Grossman during a news conference at the Blasco Memorial Library.
Erie County Blasco Library names new children's computer center for Drs. John and Silvia Ferretti. (L-R) Dr. Silvia Ferretti, Dr. John Ferretti, County Executive Barry Grossman, and Atty. Michael Visnosky.
The agreement to provide funding for the county came after three months of negotiations over the tax exempt status of LECOM and all affiliates of Millcreek Health System. In exchange for the county receiving this contribution, the Erie County Board of Assessment Appeals has agreed to drop its challenge of the tax-exempt status.
The county Public Safety department will use most of the funds, $350,000, to purchase and install mobile computers in 40 fire vehicles and 63 ambulances used by volunteer and municipal fire departments throughout the county. These computers link directly to the county dispatch center which will improve communications between emergency crews on-scene and the dispatch center. Fire fighters and ambulance crews will be able to see locations, injury descriptions, hazardous waste reports and other data sent immediately to their vehicles.
The Blasco Library will receive the remaining $150,000 to upgrade computer equipment used by library patrons to access the internet, search library catalogs, and educate children. LECOM is also funding the creation of the Dr. John M. Ferretti and Dr. Silvia M. Ferretti Family Learning Center. This new area in the library computer lab will provide early childhood learning computers and software that parents and children can explore together. The LECOM contribution also will allow the library to replace all 34 of its computers in the internet lab and to transform the online catalog into a user friendly search engine.
“These projects are vital to the missions of both Erie County and LECOM,” said County Executive Grossman. “For years, LECOM has contributed to the quality of our community by proficing outstanding education programs that focus on the health and safety of our residents. I am proud to of this collaboration and LECOM’s willingness to shoulder a critical part of the public responsibility of protecting lives and expanding learning opportunities.
Previously, LECOM agreed to support educational activities by providing $620,000 over five years to the School District of the City of Erie.
LECOM President, Dr. John Ferretti, noted that LECOM has embraced service from its very inception.
“The College remains solidly in the vanguard in its duties to serve,” Dr. Ferretti said, “whether as a good corporate citizen, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars in educational and community grants to the city, county and school district, or as a major sponsor of numerous charitable and cultural events, or most importantly, through the volunteerism of our faculty, staff and students in donating countless hours to improve the life of the less fortunate and those in need.”
Attorney Michael Visnosky, Chairman of the LECOM Board of Trustees, worked on the plan with county officials and secured approval of the agreement with the Trustees. In a separate arrangement, LECOM will provide $55,000 per year to the City of Erie and help pay for a traffic light near the main campus.
“We think it is the proper approach for LECOM to contribute this way,” said Attorney Visnosky. “We try to tailor our projects where they meet our mission.” Thus, the decision was made to promote emergency services and to improve education.