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Town hosted convention without a hitch

August 12, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - Two years ago, Hancock firefighters co-hosted the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association convention when it was held in Morgan County, W.Va. But last week's four-day event hosted in Hancock was a first for this Washington County town.

Greg Yost, a Hancock Town Council member and chairman of the convention committee, said it was exciting to work on planning the 103rd annual event that drew 150 firefighters from New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

"There were lots and lots of details to check and recheck," Yost said.

One disappointment was that construction of a second bay and a new second floor at the Hancock Fire Hall wasn't completed in time for the convention, Yost said. Activities that could have been held there were shifted elsewhere.

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"The American Legion, the Hancock Lions Club and the Hancock United Methodist Church were great, hosting events and letting us use their facilities for meetings, banquets, etc.," Yost said.

Representing the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, Lou Close said Hancock was more than up to the challenge of having large numbers of firefighters and their spouses come to the area.

"We can handle anything in Hancock," Close said.

A sign along Main Street across from the Sheetz Store carried the CVVFA logo.

Plenty of brochures were available to show visitors what services were available in the town and nearby.

"We provided information on walking and riding in Hancock, bike trails, the C&O Canal, our Antiques Mall and the Hepburn Orchards, among others," Close said.

While Hancock has three motels in town, Close said most of the conventioneers were staying at the Berkeley Springs Inn in nearby Morgan County, W.Va.

Vicki Creek, who with her husband, Wayne, owns Creek's Jewelry at 64 W. Main St., said she doesn't believe most Hancock residents realize what an impact the convention has in town.

"It's really good for the town and it's good for business," she said.

Two years ago, the Creeks served refreshments outside their store to greet convention visitors. And Vicki Creek said that was again the case for this year's convention.

A mix of official meetings, elections and installation of officers and educational sessions, the convention also included a memorial service for fallen firefighters, picnics and two parades as the convention came to a close last weekend.

Yost said one of the main reasons the convention is held is to share new ideas and techniques in the post-9/11 world of emergency response.

A highlight was the arrival of Gary Morris and his wife who "walked" to the convention. The former chief of the Seattle, Wash., Fire Department and a member of the association's Emergency Responder Safety Institute, Morris was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

The Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway met Morris at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., on Aug. 5 and transported him and his wife to the convention, where he delivered an address at the banquet and installation of officers.

Organized in 1901 in Chambersburg, Pa., the CVVFA's reason for being was to enable fire companies in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia to adopt a uniform hose coupling and a mutual aid system along the Cumberland Valley Railroad.

The group has remained together to solve mutual problems and share innovations.

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