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August 28, 2013

Step Back in Time: Aug. 28, 2013

Step Back in Time features news items from The Daily Star 25 and 50 years ago.

50 years ago

Aug. 28, 1963

COOPERSTOWN — Mental health and establishing mental health services for the Otsego County community, are still very much on minds and in hearts of people of many walks of life here.

At a public meeting Tuesday evening at the Extension headquarters in Cooperstown, and sponsored by the County Mental Health Committee of the Otsego County Health Association, high interest and indignation over the “disinterest” of the Otsego County Board of Supervisors, were expressed by the group which included teachers, doctors, ministers, housewives and “just interested citizens.”

The Board of Supervisors rejected the proposal for creation of a mental health program in the county, when at its June 12 meeting, it voted to approve the report of a special Mental Health Committee, which recommended “that no action be taken with respect to any type of mental health service in the County of Otsego.”

The main reason offered in the report was the estimated cost “of a mental health service,” but the consensus of opinion Tuesday evening as expressed in open forum, was that the “committee had confused a mental health services clinic with a mental health services board, which, it was pointed out would cost the taxpayers very little, and which would not necessarily mean establishing of a clinic.”

The Rev. Alfred Bentall, minister at large of the Otsego County Council of Churches, summed up thus: “There is one thing we must remember, there is a one party system (21 Republicans, 6 Democrats) in this county. They are firmly entrenched in Otsego County and let’s face it; they do not want any mental health projects here.”

The sponsoring group had invited Dr. Leonard C. Laing, Associate Commissioner of the Department of Mental Hygiene, in charge of community services, to explain the New York State Community Mental Health Services Act under which specific services for matching funds are available to communities or counties.

The act states that the local community board will set up services for general areas of psychiatry, such as: out-patients and in-patients; psychiatric services in general hospitals, or in non-profit private institutions.

Dr. Laing said that the state will reimburse 50 percent of the cost of operation of approved community mental health services, but they must be administered by a locally appointed and controlled Mental Health Board.

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