Volunteers built town hall with sweets, potatoes


Union Bridge's new town hall was built with spuds and sweets -- and volunteers.

"We held breakfasts, had bake tables at other events, people are donating all kinds of things," said Town Clerk-Treasurer Kathleen D. Kreimer as she walked through the hallways of the spacious, white-walled office building. "We did anything we could to raise money for this building, and now it looks like things are finally coming together."

After several weeks of frustrating setbacks, town officials were able to move into their new offices Sunday and hold a council meeting Monday night in their expanded meeting room.

Mayor Perry L. Jones walked through the building like a proud new father Monday night.

"Those tables were from the community center," said Mr. Jones, pointing to the tables in the meeting room, behind which several council members were seated for the meeting. "Just about all the furniture here has been donated."

"We were very fortunate in the response from our residents," Mr. Jones said. "There was a lot of hard work and effort put into those fund-raisers, and people have always been willing to help."

The red brick building on Locust Street -- built to imitate the nearly 90-year-old Pump House to which it is attached -- has brought town residents together to pay for and furnish the new municipal space.

It is more than 10 times larger than the old town hall, the 180-square-foot former living room of a house at 1 W. Broadway that the town government used for about 70 years.

The new building has offices for the the mayor, clerk-treasurer and council, and a reception area for the office assistants. Other features include bathrooms accessible to the disabled, a kitchen, a records room, a private conference room and a meeting room that will seat about 100 people.

Even with piles of boxes and file cabinets to unpack, Ms. Kreimer said she is happy to be in the spacious new office building.

The two large desks, file cabinets, long conference table and office equipment in the old office left little room in the cramped, one-room office she shared, alternately, with two office assistants, Stacey Lookingbill and Elaine Holmes, and her part-time assistant, Irene Williar.

"Boy, you don't know how happy I am to be here," Ms. Kreimer said. "It's been a long time coming, and nobody's more excited than I am."

The Town Hall Funding Committee began raising money shortly after the town chose the building's location in March 1992. Fund-raisers such as the annual Gala '90s Picnic held in September, have helped to support the $171,000 project.

Contributions have come in many forms -- from Betty Zimmerman's red velvet cake and Joan McKee's potato soup to Hugh Engle's bacon and Doris Greenwood's eggs, which were served during bake sales, breakfasts and lunch events.

Lehigh Portland Cement Co. donated cement for the floor of the building. The Westminster police department donated used furniture to the town.

The local Heritage Committee, which will use the Pump House building as a museum and office, donated a white marble marker for the building.

"We have always said that, being with the Heritage Committee, we spend most of our time looking backward," said John Gartrell, the group's president. "This gives us the chance to take part in or get involved in something happening right now."

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 8806 donated the flagpoles outside the building and will replace the American flag whenever it be comes worn.

Mr. Engle, vice president of Farmer and Mechanics National Bank in Union Bridge, arranged for the town to receive meeting room chairs, a desk, a computer table, coat racks and various other items from the bank's Frederick branch, which was renovated.

"The things these people have done to raise money and help is really outstanding," said Mr. Engle, a Union Bridge native who lives outside Taneytown. "Any time anyone is asked to do something, they'll help. Nobody lies down here. It's really a good community."

Kathy Ridgely, who was on the committee that chose the building's location, sewed curtains for the mayor's office and put up a paisley wallpaper border around the room "to spruce up those white walls."

"Everybody pitched in. We have a very cooperative town," Ms. Ridgely said. "But if we can do it [pay for the town hall] with contributions instead of having an ongoing rise in our taxes, that helps us, too."

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