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Gala fund-raiser supports library

October 10, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - On the menu: Bacon-wrapped shrimp and scallops, coconut shrimp in a lime dressing, orange-flavored flan and spirited drinks.

On the agenda: Making money.

About 160 government officials and business and civic leaders paid the $75 entrance fee to attend Saturday's fifth annual Gala In The Stacks fund-raiser for county libraries at the Washington County Free Library's main branch on South Potomac Street.

The money raised by ticket sales covers the cost of the party, but the sponsorships - including from The Herald-Mail - given to the library system in the name of the gala are what bring in the bulk of the cash, said Mary Anne Burke, the top organizer of the event.

Burke and Mary Baykan, director of the library, said they expected to bring in about $30,000 or more in connection with Saturday's party. That would bring the total earnings of the gala over the years to about $100,000, Burke said.

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There are three major projects in the library system's pipeline, Baykan said. New libraries in Boonsboro and Smithsburg each will cost about $1 million, Baykan said.

Future renovations for the library's main branch could cost up to $8 million, although they're not expected to take place until after the Boonsboro and Smithsburg libraries are complete.

So bringing in some of the county's socialites - many of whom may not have been to their local libraries in some time - can't hurt, Baykan said.

"We need to get on the radar of the County Commissioners. ... This is part of it," Baykan said.

Evening gowns and tuxedos were the style of choice for the night, and jazz and Brazilian-themed dishes evoked the party's theme: Rendezvous in Rio.

Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said the food and the drinks were a nice touch - although, joking, "at these things ... one's enough. I'm driving."

The main thrust, Breichner said, is "to support the library. ... It's a downtown asset and we've got to contribute."

The city has a stake in the library's South Potomac Street location because of the development efforts nearby, Breichner said.

Matt Hull, the assistant mayor of Keedysville, said he's a single-issue attendee for the annual party. He said the basic conversation he usually has every year revolves around the one-room library owned by the town, but run by the county.

Hull said he will hear from officials "we're not going to touch it," and he'll reply, "I know, I just want you to remember that I still remember that you said that."

Brien Poffenberger, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said an event like the gala is the perfect way to raise money.

"You make a party out of it," Poffenberger said.

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