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Towns pledge funds to build training center

November 27, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - So far all but two of Franklin County, Pa., townships and municipalities have pledged $1 for each of their citizens to help pay for a $500,000 training center to be built next year.

All 22 municipalities and townships are expected to pledge, said Ken North, head of training for the Franklin County Fire Chiefs Association. North is coordinating the fund-raising.

The Franklin County Commissions will match what the municipalities give. If all municipalities join the pledge, the commissioners will have to come up with $130,000 bringing to $260,000 the total raised.

That will be added to the $100,000 donated in 1995 by Isadore Gagara, a local real estate broker who died last year. Gagara wanted his gift to pay for education and training of firefighters, North said.

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The second phase of the fund-raising effort, the raffling off of 180 Beanie Babies, was supposed to bring another $100,000. So far that effort has been a bust, barely bringing in $5,000 since the tickets went on sale in August.

Neither North nor Jo Ann Kissinger, owner of the Yellow Shed Gift Shoppe at 5300 Lincoln Way East in Chambersburg who donated the Beanie Babies, know what happened.

"We just didn't give it enough hype," Kissinger said. "The potential is there. I'm a little disappointed, but there's still time. People can call here at the store at 717-352-9388 for tickets," she said.

North and some firefighter volunteers will man a raffle ticket booth at the Chambersburg Mall today and again on Dec. 18 and 19. The Beanie Baby drawing will be held Dec. 20 on the site where the training center will be built, North said. Construction will begin next spring on five acres of donated land near the Franklin County Career and Technical Center on Loop Road.

North said the fire chiefs association has invited Beanie Baby creator Ty Warner to pull the winning raffle ticket at the drawing. A secretary in his Illinois headquarters said he's too busy to come, North said. "We're going to send him a another invitation," he said.

Beanie Babies are a growing family of cuddly, Chinese-made stuffed animals that started showing up on toy, department store and gift shop shelves about five years ago. They have created such a buying hysteria that while new off the shelf they sell for under $6 people seem to be willing to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on the secondary market, especially for those that are "retired," and no longer in production.

Kissinger said many of the 180 Beanie Babies that she donated to the raffle are retired.

North spent $3,200 of the raffle proceeds on a model "hazard house," a collapsible model home designed to teach fire safety by simulating situations where fire hazards occur in households. It illustrates its message with smoke and sparks.

The display will be shown in schools and to organizations by student volunteers enrolled in the Career and Technology Center's protective services courses, North said.

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