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PenMar to make donations to three fire and rescue companies

December 16, 2009

CASCADE -- PenMar Development Corp. has announced donations to Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co., Smithsburg EMS and Blue Ridge Summit (Pa.) Volunteer Fire & Rescue Squad.

PenMar Development Corp. (PMDC) was asked by the fire and rescue companies to assist their programs in replacing aging fire and emergency vehicles that serve the Smithsburg and Blue Ridge Summit areas. In response, the PMDC board of directors approved donations of $50,000 to the Smithsburg fire company, $50,000 to the Blue Ridge Summit squad and $13,000 to Smithsburg EMS, according to a release from PenMar.

"All three of these units serve the former Fort Ritchie Army base in Cascade, and we believe it is important to safeguard the buildings on the property, as well as some 200 people who live at Fort Ritchie," Dori Nipps, executive director of PenMar Development Corp., said in the release.

"These amounts constitute approximately 10 percent of the funds needed to purchase new fire and chase vehicles," Nipps said. "We hope that members of the affected communities will donate the remaining funds."

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She said the gifts are especially important at a time when many corporate sponsors and individuals are reducing charitable donations.

"PMDC recognizes that this equipment is needed to provide services, not only at Fort Ritchie, but also for emergencies in the surrounding communities," Nipps said.

Smithsburg Fire and EMS is the first responder for Fort Ritchie, which is in Washington County. Because it is close to the former base, the Blue Ridge Summit squad is often first on the scene.

"All three companies provide excellent service, and local communities are fortunate to have such dedicated volunteers. We urge the businesses and residents of Smithsburg, Cascade and Blue Ridge Summit to add to our seed funds, so the equipment may be acquired quickly," Nipps said.

The U.S. Army closed Fort Ritchie in 1998. PenMar Development Corp. was created by the State of Maryland to oversee the redevelopment of Fort Ritchie to civilian use. In 2007, PMDC sold the property to Corporate Office Properties Trust, a private real estate development company, but remains involved to monitor redevelopment and support job creation on the property.

PMDC previously donated $1.1 million for renovations to Cascade Elementary School, $2.2 million for construction of the Fort Ritchie Community Center and $50,000 for renovations to a building at Fort Ritchie for Hagerstown Community College classes.

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