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Schedule conflict could bump 'Bonanza'

October 05, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Hagerstown's firefighters union might reschedule a "Bonanza Extravaganza" fund-raiser at Fairgrounds Park because they don't want to compete with another charitable fund-raiser at the Fairgrounds the same weekend, a fire official said Monday.

"For us to uproot them is wrong. We're in it for the same reason," said Rick Conrad, special projects coordinator for the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1605.

The firefighters union got the go-ahead Sept. 28 from a majority of City Council members to plan a fund-raiser at the Fairgrounds for Sept. 16-18, 2005. The fund-raiser is to include gambling, alcohol sales and firearms giveaways.

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Conrad said he heard late last week that Citicorp was holding a fund-raiser at the same time and place. After investigating, firefighters union officials decided to try to find a different location in the city for that weekend or change their fund-raiser's date.

"I truly think that's for the best," Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said. Hendershot said he was concerned union officials hadn't thought through the event.

The scheduling mix-up also puzzled Hendershot.

"That blows me away. I don't know that it was us that didn't do the work," Hendershot said.

The Hagerstown Fairgrounds Softball Association has a user agreement with the city that gives them sole scheduling rights for the softball fields at the Fairgrounds, said John Budesky, who oversees the City Parks and Recreation Department.

As a result, city recreation officials don't always know the reservation schedule for the fields, Budesky said. He said he got a call on Sept. 27 from a softball association member about the Citicorp event.

The Bonanza would not have used the softball fields, but having both events there would create logistical problems, such as parking, said Budesky, the city's director of administrative services.

Budesky said the mayor and City Council have the right to supersede other events if they want the firefighters union fund-raiser to be held at the Fairgrounds that weekend.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said he thought the council's directions were to make the facility available for the firefighters union fund-raiser.

Zimmerman said he didn't recall whether the mayor and council were advised there was another fund-raiser at the Fairgrounds that weekend.

"Even though we have permission from the mayor and council, we're not going to utilize that Big Brother chip," Conrad said.

Citicorp's fund-raiser benefits local charities and the softball group earns revenue for its budget by selling concessions at Citicorp's event, Conrad said.

"By us having our event there we would hamper two organizations," Conrad said.

Mike Kelbaugh, vice president of the softball association, was grateful the firefighters union was willing to reschedule to allow other groups to raise money.

"I think them being concerned is a great thing. I think everybody working together like that could make the community a great place," Kelbaugh said.

Kelbaugh said Citicorp had not formally requested that weekend yet for its fund-raiser, but it usually is held that weekend. Citicorp and a church tournament usually have their fund-raisers at the Fairgrounds on back-to-back weekends in September, he said.

The firefighters union wants to hold the Bonanza to increase its donations to charities, nonprofit groups and scholarships, Conrad said. The union would keep part of the proceeds to pay for things such as training.

People could buy a $100 raffle ticket, and gain entry to the Bonanza, for a chance at prizes such as rifles, shotguns, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, trip packages and cash, Conrad said.

Conrad said the event could draw 6,000 to 8,000 people.

Citicorp spokesman Phil Kelly said the company holds an annual charitable softball tournament in September at the Fairgrounds. This year the event benefited Tri-State area shelters.

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