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Event raises money for center

April 23, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Dieter Blosel, the executive chef at Schmankerl Stube, stood outside the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown building on West Washington Street Friday night.

There was a light drizzle, and it was dark outside, but Blosel's spirits were up. He was holding a cake he had made, and it had just fetched $500 in an auction to benefit a scholarship fund for the campus.

"Finally, someone appreciates my work!" Blosel, 35, said smiling.

The chocolate cake was in the shape of a book. Dark chocolate icing stripes on the sides gave the appearance of pages. The top of the cake, topped with almond-rich marzipan, boasted printed, edible pages.

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The winning bid on the cake had been cast by local businessman James Piern and William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. The two split the price evenly at $250 apiece, although Kirwan might have ended up on the better end of the deal.

After winning the auction, Kirwan wheeled up in a red sedan to the sidewalk where Blosel was standing. Blosel gently placed the cake in Kirwan's back seat.

Kirwan told a reporter that Piern could have some of it "if there was any left," and Kirwan drove into the night.

The monetary exchange was just one of many Friday night at the newly opened campus building.

About 200 people gathered downtown for the campus' first scholarship fundraiser, one that campus officials hope is only the first of many.

After hors d'oeuvres and a musical selection from the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's string section, state, school and local officials took time to explain the importance of the university building to their guests.

Speakers included Maryland Secretary of Business and Economic Development Aris Melissaratos, Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner and Kirwan.

The guests, however, probably already knew the building's role. They paid $125 each to attend, and some paid more.

At the end of the official speeches, Breichner presented C. David Warner III, the education center's executive director, with a ceremonial check for $20,000, although the numbers had been crossed out with a ball point pen.

"We crossed out the 20 because we raised 25,000" dollars, Breichner told Warner in front of the crowd.

Afterward, Warner explained that the event, organized by the City of Hagerstown and sponsored by several local businesses, cost about $27,000 to put on.

While the cost of the event compared with the amount raised might not appear to break even, Warner said Friday's event will spur future fundraising.

Warner said the $25,000 is the first of a $250,000 goal campus officials have set over five years. The money will be held in a local foundation, The Magnolia Foundation, and the financial interest on the money raised will be used to help pay for student tuition.

Donna Kelly, 46, of Hagerstown, was one of those in attendance. She said she came because one of her daughters still is in high school, and now local students have a place to get "first-class education without leaving home."

The Rev. Richard Masters, 79, of Smithsburg, also came to the campus fundraiser. Masters said he is a Washington County native, "and to watch the transition ... to see the use of this building for education is very satisfying."

Blosel, the chef of the pricey cake, said he was also glad he could help out.

"It's nice, I think, especially if someone auctions it off for a good cause. That's great," Blosel said.

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