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Fire Co. bingo to continue with pay for some

June 15, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

CLEAR SPRING

Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Co. officials agreed during a meeting Wednesday night that the department's bingo fundraising will continue but operate in compliance with the law.

Two company members were banned from involvement in bingo while an investigation into alleged wrongdoing by the Washington County Gaming Office and Maryland State Police takes place. The agencies are investigating alleged violations of bingo and tip jar operations at the fire company.

President Ronald Poole said Wednesday's meeting was an opportunity for those who work at bingo to talk with company officials about how to get the games back on track. About 25 people attended the meeting.

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"We're hoping everyone will stick with us for a little while until we find out who we can pay and who we can not," he said. "We can pay some people, but not all."

Some workers were being paid to work in the kitchen and operate bingo for the fire company. Poole said, within the law, some workers may be paid but others may not.

The ones who may be paid will be required to fill out 1099 tax forms, he said. Officials will know by the end of the month exactly what the company may do while still abiding by the law.

Not being paid, however, may mean that some choose not to help at bingo. Some have already said they will not help, Poole said. A woman who works in the kitchen during bingo said she and most others who work in the kitchen would not be back if they are not paid.

At a meeting last week, fire department members voted not to compensate anyone to work at bingo, which is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays. If anyone was to be paid at bingo, that decision would need to be changed.

Robert Downs, chairman of the department's standing committee, said it was likely the department would cut back on the number of people working at bingo. About 18 people are needed to work each night.

"We want to come back and have our ducks in a row and get it right," he said.

Those at the meeting decided to postpone having regularly scheduled bingo until July 8. Poole said he will temporarily chair a bingo committee that most likely will have about five members.

Downs said what the fire company lacked before was involvement in bingo and a way to oversee the operation.

Poole said he and other fire company members were committed to the success of bingo and would do what it took to keep it running.

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