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Economy reason for drop in United Way donations here

The economy is responsible for reductions in donations to the United Way, officials said Thursday.

The United Way in Jamestown fell $30,000 short of the $205,000 goal in its last campaign. Although disappointed they didn't make it, board members are pleased with what they did raise, said Karli Skjeret, president.

"I think it's just the economy and a lot of people are tightening up," she said.

But because donations were lower, the agencies it aids received less. United Way reduced donations by a standard percent for each organization that benefits from it allocations, Skjeret said.

One of the agencies, Community Corrections, uses the $4,500 or so it receives each year to pay insurance and administrative fees for juveniles and some adults who can't afford to pay them.

Community Corrections finds appropriate places for people to serve their community service sentence, said Dell Horn, director.

Sometimes the people (usually juveniles) sentenced to serve community service can't afford the $40 fees, Horn said, so judges allow them to work that time off with additional community service time. In exchange, Community Corrections uses the money from United Way to pay those costs.

Horn said he's surprised about the reduction, but in the scheme of things, it makes sense. At Community Corrections, more people have required assistance paying their fees, he said.

"I think the economy has hit different pockets in different counties harder," he said.

Officials have cited the economy as playing a role in donation reductions for other events and groups like Relay for Life in Jamestown. Relay fell about 33 percent short of its $225,000 goal last year. It raised about $150,000. But other events and organizations, like Runnin' O the Green and Salvation Army in Jamestown, reported increases.

For Community Corrections, the $4,500 it typically receives was reduced about $500.

"For our program, it's a significant amount," he said.

Horn said he isn't sure how Community Corrections will recoup the costs.

United Way members will continue to fundraise for next year, said Ben Shannon, co-chair.

"We didn't meet our goal, but by no means are we depressed by it," he said.

The 2010 campaign doesn't kick off until September, but already, the United Way Board has bake sales, bowling tournaments and potato feeds planned.

Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at