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Celebrity bartenders help raise $1,200 to support the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force

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More than $1,200 was raised for the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Task Force at a celebrity bartender night Saturday at Hosmer’s Marina.

“We did very well,” task force Chairman Charles W. Kelly said. “It was pretty well attended; I was pleased.”

The money raised will help the task force continue to campaign against the planned closure of inpatient mental health services at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.

The state Office of Mental Health has proposed sending mental health patients in need of inpatient care to facilities in Syracuse and Utica and expanding community-based treatment and support programs.

While fighting the OMH plan the task force has purchased lawn signs, T-shirts and traveled to meetings with lawmakers to make its case.

The celebrity bartender night saw people like Mayor William D. Nelson; Ronnie D. Freeman, president of Civil Service Employees Association Local 423, which represents psych center staff; St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Patrick J. Kelly; and Ogdensburg City Manager John M. Pinkerton getting behind the bar and serving drinks.

“The attendance was strong,” Mr. Pinkerton said, adding that “[William D.] Hosmer and his people were exceptional. They opened up the bar to us and just did whatever they could to help us.”

A silent auction helped boost the final numbers and Mr. Pinkerton said “in excess of 36 local business donated auction items.”

“It was very well supported by the business community and the community at large,” Mr. Pinkerton said.

Further adding to the night’s total was Elizabeth (Breen) Testani, who won the night’s $208 raffle ticket and promptly donated her winnings to the task force. But the fight to keep inpatient services local is not over, and the task force is still looking for donations.

T-shirts reading “SLPC = Excellence” are available for $10 each at the Ogdensburg City Manager’s Office, as are lawn signs, which are free of charge.

Mr. Pinkerton said many local businesses have bought T-shirts for their employees and sent photos of everyone wearing the shirts to the task force for publication. Those efforts, Mr. Pinkerton said, help demonstrate the region’s support for the psychiatric center.

In addition, Mr. Pinkerton encouraged supporters to sign the change.org petition titled “New York State Office of Mental Health: Keep St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Open with Full Facilities.”

The petition can be found at www.change.org/petitions/new-york-state-office-of-mental-health-keep-st-lawrence-psychiatric-center-open-with-full-facilities.

Mr. Pinkerton said the task force plans on printing out the petition and bringing it to Albany when they meet with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s staff on Tuesday. The task forces hopes to convince the governor’s staff that the north country needs inpatient mental health services.

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