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Pledges push Pa. training center closer to reality

October 11, 2000

Pledges push Pa. training center closer to reality



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Plans to build a $1.2 million Franklin County Public Safety Training Center moved ahead a step Wednesday with a $9,000 check from an area real estate agency. About a half a million dollars has been raised toward the project, officials said.

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G. Warren Elliott, chairman of the Franklin County Commissioners and the honorary chairman for the training center's fund-raising campaign, said about $500,000 has already been committed, including pledges from Franklin County's 22 municipalities.

The municipalities pledged $1 per resident for a total of $130,000. The Commissioners matched that donation, bringing the total to $260,000, Elliott said.

State Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, is trying to secure a $600,000 grant for the project from the state's Capital Budget Bill, Elliott said.

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"That will still leave us about $150,000 short," he said. A committee has been appointed to seek donations from residents for the rest of the money.

Thirty agents with the Jack Gaughen Realtor agency recently took $30 each out of their sales commissions and donated $4,500 to the new training center.

The Chambersburg firm matched what the agents contributed, bringing the total donation to $9,000, said Harold Bricker, one of the agents and a former Greencastle, Pa., firefighter.

Kenneth E. North, the training chairman for the Franklin County Fire Chiefs' Association, accepted the agency's check in a brief ceremony in Chambersburg Wednesday.

Construction of the center could begin late this year or early spring, North said.

The Franklin County Career and Technology Center donated 5 acres for the center on its Loop Road campus south of Chambersburg.

The plan includes a $350,000 "burn building" to train firefighters. There would also be a $224,000 classroom building, a drill tower for high-rise rescue training and other facilities, North said.

The Franklin County Builders Association has volunteered to build the 40-by-80-foot classroom building, North said.

Teachers will be paid by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Elliott said.

Area businesses and industries will send their employees to the center to meet requirements set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, North said.

Fees for training should eventually make the center self-supporting, he said.

According to Elliott, the existence of the training center will mean a reclassification of fire insurance rates for home owners and businesses in the county. Average rates should drop about 5 percent, he said.

North said new firefighters need 88 hours of training and veterans need 18 hours a year in additional training.

Currently Franklin County firefighters must travel to the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md., for training. That facility is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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