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Psych Center Task Force efforts supported by community members and businesses

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The effort to preserve inpatient services at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center have been bolstered by visible community support demonstrated across the north country with lawn signs and lime green t-shirts.

Secretary to the City Manager and Mayor Coralee Barrett said 704 T-shirts advocating for the psychiatric center have been purchased, at $10 each, and more than 700 signs have gone out across the county free of charge.

The state Office of Mental Health has proposed closing inpatient care facilities at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, instead sending patients to Utica or Syracuse.

The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force, a community organization dedicated to saving inpatient services locally, has partnered with local businesses to help spread the word.

Mrs. Barrett said 13 businesses have helped the cause by buying t-shirts and taking photos for publication of their staff wearing them.

Other businesses are lining up to help out, Mrs. Barrett said, and she hopes to spread the campaign to the entire region served by the psychiatric center including St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Franklin, Essex, Lewis and Clinton counties.

“We’d really like to see any other business outside of the city of Ogdensburg participate,” Mrs. Barrett said.

The t-shirts are all coming from Arne’s Custom Printing, Gouverneur, and Mrs. Barrett said the task force has made roughly $3,600 from the campaign so far with the proceeds going to help fund the fight against the plan from OMH.

The lawn signs, printed at Arne’s and Stubbs Printing, Massena, are being given away for free and were paid for by members of the local chapters of the state Public Employees Federation and the Civil Service Employees Association.

Mrs. Barrett said the signs have so far been concentrated in the Ogdensburg area but soon she hopes to see lawns across the north country sporting the message.

“People are assuming this is a city of Ogdensburg thing and it’s not,” she said. “The outlying communities are most welcome to call and be part of the support system.”

Anyone interested in picking up t-shirts or signs should contact Mrs. Barrett at the Ogdensburg City Hall at 393-6100.

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