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Couple makes 'inaugural' offer

January 19, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Rental income is handy, but Kimberly Leasure had other reasons for advertising her St. James home as a place to stay for Tuesday's presidential inauguration.

For one thing, the house became emptier when the last of her four adult children moved out last year.

She also saw it as a way to share the thrill of the historic change of power in Washington, D.C. -- from a distance.

"I can feel some of the excitement," she said.

Leasure and her husband, Mark, posted an ad on the Web site www.craigslist.com, where many others have done the same, including several in the Tri-State area.

With millions of people expected for the inauguration, and many traveling great distances and needing somewhere to stay, hotel rooms in and around Washington, D.C., began filling up.

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Rooms as far away as Hagerstown and Martinsburg, W.Va., became scarce, too, prompting visitors to look for other ideas and homeowners to see an opportunity.

It's not clear, though, how much interest those ads generated locally.

The Herald-Mail responded to about 15 Craigslist ads for homes or rooms for rent in Washington County or West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle, all connected to the inauguration.

Most people who placed ads didn't reply to requests for comment. One declined to be interviewed. Two said they'd gotten little or no feedback about their ads.

The ads had a range of choices and prices.

One person wanted $2,500 for two bedrooms in an historic home in Hagerstown during the week of the inauguration.

A Harpers Ferry, W.Va., home was available for $3,000 for the same period.

Someone in Charles Town, W.Va., was charging $75 a night for "a place to crash."

For two nights, the Leasures asked for $500 a night for one bedroom and one bathroom in their log cabin home.

However, as of Sunday, they also hadn't found anyone to take them up on their offer.

Kimberly Leasure said she'd rely on her intuition about people who responded.

"I feel like I could trust people," she said. "I prayed about it. The Lord will protect us. (And) they have to trust us."

Leasure said she likes meeting new people. Plus, the experience would give her good material to write about on her blog.

"This is only going to happen once in a lifetime," she said.

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