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Bruchey says event was not part of campaign

May 09, 2001

Bruchey says event was not part of campaign



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

A week before Hagerstown's elections, Republican Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II organized an outdoor recording session for more than 100 third-graders whose songs Bruchey said will be incorporated into material sent to companies considering moving to the area.

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Bruchey said the event held in Public Square was "not campaign driven."

City Councilman William M. Breichner, the Democrat facing Bruchey in Tuesday's mayoral election, said he thought it was.

"A press conference in the square with 100 children singing and the council's not there, I think it's campaign oriented," Breichner said.

The 107 third-graders from Eastern Elementary School sang a version of "Downtown" and a song about the "Wonders of Washington County," which was set to the music of "My Little Runaway."

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The singers caught Bruchey's attention several weeks ago when he attended a school program where they performed. He was so impressed he wanted to use them to promote the area, he said.

"This is a great opportunity to record (them) and send it out with our marketing material," Bruchey said.

After the children sang, Bruchey said, "If we use this in our promotions for Hagerstown and Washington County we ought to see another boom."

Bruchey and the children wore turquoise T-shirts that had "Downtown Hagerstown" and a silhouette of Little Heiskell in white on the front. The T-shirts, which cost about $800, were paid for by the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said city spokeswoman Karen Giffin.

No City Council members attended the event.

Breichner said he was notified that the mayor would be holding a 1 p.m. press conference to talk about students and economic development.

"Certainly if I would have known there would be 100 children singing I probably would have shown up," Breichner said.

"This is an advantage the mayor's office has. I hope in four years to have the same advantage although I don't think I'd use it," Breichner said.

"This was a great thing for the City of Hagerstown. It had nothing to do with campaigning," Bruchey said.

Bruchey said he told the council members during recent council meetings about the event and what would take place.

Councilmen Alfred W. Boyer, J. Wallace McClure, Lewis C. Metzner and Breichner said they found out about the event through invitations.

The invitations stated, "The subjects of the press conference are students and economic development."

Giffin said she sent out about 100 invitations for the event, which she said is typical for press conferences and openings.

The roads leading through Public Square, Washington Street and Potomac Avenue were closed for about 20 minutes for the event, which was attended by about 60 people.

The road closures caught some fire and rescue agencies off guard.

Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications Chief Ron Karn said Hagerstown Fire Chief Gary Hawbaker said they found out the roads were closed when one of Hagerstown's fire trucks got stuck in traffic and asked dispatchers if there was a problem downtown.

The fire truck was not en route to an emergency call, Hawbaker said.

After Hawbaker found out about the road closures, he was informed that emergency vehicles could have gotten through if necessary.

Normally, 911 communications personnel are warned of such road closures so they can notify local fire and rescue companies in case of an emergency call in that area, Karn said.

Giffin said city police were notified of the road closures. It could not be determined why the fire and rescue agencies did not find out about the closures earlier.

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