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Red Cross chapter holds ceremony for new building

May 07, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - One by one, local officials, American Red Cross staff, board members and volunteers stepped up to the podium Thursday morning to comment on the ceremonial grand opening of the chapter's new building at 1131 Conrad Court.

Then it got personal.

Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner recalled a fire that displaced his son from his home in Baltimore years ago. "He lost all his belongings but I remember how great the Red Cross was then," he said.

Alfred E. Martin, co-chair of the capital campaign drive, spoke of the circumstances under which he joined the Red Cross in 1976. "My wife had been in a bad accident and needed blood - the Red Cross was there for her," he said.

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Just seven hours before Thursday's dedication, Cindy Blackstock Kline, director of emergency services for the Red Cross, was called out to help find shelter for some residents of an apartment building that burned on Frederick Street.

"This building is the fulfillment of a dream. It took five years but we made it, thanks to the generosity of donors," said Rayetta Schindel, campaign co-chair.

The move in late February ended nearly 40 years at the chapter's small, historic South Prospect Street location in Hagerstown.

Julie Barr-Strasburg, the chapter's executive director, said the new center off Eastern Boulevard behind Maaco Auto Painting and Bodyworks, is 13,265 square feet compared to its former location, which was just 2,400 square feet.

"This was a $1.75 million project and now we only need $250,000 to pay it off," Martin said Thursday. The Washington County Delegation to the General Assemble was able to get $550,000 in state funding for the project, Martin said.

"A year ago, I stood here and apologized for not getting the final $250,000 for the Red Cross building, but this year we brought it home," said Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Wash.

Two years before that, he said, the delegation had successfully lobbied for $300,000 for the project.

Barr-Strasburg said the rest of the money to build the new center came from a variety of sources including the sale of the old building, bequeathed donations and contributions from local governments.

The new building has 1,700 square feet reserved for a blood center that the Red Cross will help run through the Johnstown, Pa.-based blood services group that serves this region.|5/7/04

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