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Lottery system to be used for fire alarm boxes

January 11, 2006|By DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

It is not for money or prizes, but Hagerstown City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to create a lottery system to sell some used fire alarm boxes for $100 each.

Over the past two years, the city has been shutting down its Gamewell Fire Alarm system boxes in favor of a new system, and while they vary in condition and will be sold "as is," Public Works Manager Eric B. Deike said he expects the units will be in high demand.

"We're concerned that there's a lot more interest in it than we have boxes, so we're proposing a lottery," Deike said.

Deike and Hagerstown Fire Chief Gary Hawbaker initially proposed selling all of the 96 birdhouse-sized boxes, earmarking 72 of them for members of the Hagerstown Fire Department, including retired and volunteer members, and the remaining boxes for the general public, including city employees, retirees, residents, and current and former public officials.

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Councilman Lewis C. Metzner argued the boxes, owned by the public works department, could make good gifts to honor city firefighters, and suggested they instead be given out as awards.

"We have some very, very dedicated folks that have been with the fire and police a long time," he said. "They are so much better and so meaningful to people if they were given out to people instead of being sold."

Councilwoman Penny May Nigh said despite the sentiment, the city still should consider selling the boxes as a revenue source, even a small one.

"If we can throw it back into the city, I think it should be looked at like that," she said.

"We're just looking to get rid of them," Deike said, impartial to either selling them or giving them away.

As a compromise, Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire suggested the city auction 10 of the boxes and let Hawbaker retain some of them for awards. The council agreed.

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