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Mental Health agency forced to delay opening in new location

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For the Mental Health Association in Jefferson County, the term “new” hasn’t exactly meant a fresh start.

The nonprofit agency moved out of its rented 724 State St. office just before Christmas, and spent about a week moving items to its new home at 425 Washington St., a two-floor building managed by Washington Street Properties. Executive Director Korin A. Scheible said the last of the agency’s belongings were moved Jan. 3, the day the furnace stopped working, and because of a cold spell during that time, pipes broke, creating a “squishy” carpet in some areas and damage throughout the first floor.

“Our game room — (the pipe) burst in there,” she said. “Luckily we didn’t have much in there. We also had a line burst in the kitchen, and in other places it wasn’t working. There was no damage.”

She and staff members were at the agency Friday sorting through wet and dry items, as they began to assess the damage.

“I don’t know if it’ll come out of our insurance or theirs,” she said, regarding claims from either the Mental Health Association or the property manager.

A total figure of how much it will cost to replace items and finalize repairs is unknown, she said, as Washington Street Properties owner Brian H. Murray was out of town and unavailable through today.

“We’re finally having a chance to unpack,” Ms. Scheible said. “Luckily, we didn’t have damage to the pool table. We just paid to have it re-felted.”

The pool table is near and dear to agency clients, as it took them three years, from 2006 to 2009, to raise $2,300 for a pool table they ordered through an online company, but the company cashed the check for the pool table and never shipped it. After hearing about the struggle, CoolWaters Pool and Spa, Syracuse, provided the Mental Health Association with a new $2,500, 8-foot pool table.

Because just a few rooms were affected, Ms. Scheible said, the agency hopes to be up and running as best it can today. Staff and volunteers will help get the first floor of the Mental Health Association organized and functioning, and take more time later to situate administrative offices on the second floor.

Because of the delay, the agency also hasn’t been able to pay its bills the past couple of weeks, she said, but expects to resume all agency functions shortly.

Ms. Scheible said one highlight to which staff and clients may look forward is new furniture expected to be delivered as early as this week.

Meanwhile, the Theresa Food Pantry, 110 Antwerp Road, Theresa, also felt the effects of recent winter weather, as it had to close temporarily because of icy conditions outside that made conditions outside the pantry unsafe, according to Jan McCormick, who helps run the pantry. During the closure last week, families in that area who needed assistance were invited to seek services at the Watertown Urban Mission, 247 Factory St., Watertown; the Indian River Baptist Church Pantry, 42 E. Main St., Philadelphia, or Gwen’s Pantry, 6213 Route 180, LaFargeville.

Mrs. McCormick said Sunday that all ice has been cleared and the pantry is expected this week to resume its normal hours of operation, 9 a.m. to noon on Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

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