Fern Haines, president of the Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company, this week showed me around the company's new digs, right in the heart of town. The fire company's building expansion has been in the making since July, and soon the firefighters will be moving into the newest place in town.
My personal tour lasted nearly an hour as Mr. Haines, and later his son Jim and I inspected the offices and other rooms that will become a home away from home for the 80 members of the volunteer fire company.
Rows of cots with brand new mattresses line the walls of a dormitory, where the firefighters will rest while they await calls and where county road crews will bunk during snow emergencies next winter.
The laundry room, with its new washer and dryer, stands at the ready.
A new kitchen promises the preparation of fund-raising breakfasts and dinners known to be among the best in the county.
The board room awaits an antique table, purchased from a local bank, as its most useful centerpiece. The adjacent meeting room seats 100 people and will be available for community groups to use, as well as for the fire company's meetings.
Everything is brand new, squeaky clean and as polished as the fire engines that sit in the three-door garage that faces Baltimore Street.
The company answers fire and emergency calls within a 15-mile radius of Taneytown, as well as calls from Littlestown, Emmitsburg and other surrounding communities.
"Mutually, it's a wonderful thing," Mr. Haines said, "to have other companies backing you up -- no matter where you're at."
Mr. Haines, a Taneytown farmer, has been a volunteer firefighter for 40 years. His sons also are active in the fire company.
The company answers about 1,100 calls a year -- 400 fire calls and 700 emergency calls. Active members wear pagers, and all have extensive training. It takes 70 hours of training just to qualify to ride in a fire engine, and 140 hours of training are required to become a firefighter.
The company owns four engines, two ambulances and one brush truck.
This growing number of calls, resulting from population growth in the area in recent years, necessitated the building expansion.
"We're hoping this building will last for 25 years," Mr. Haines said. The last building effort was in 1972, when the company answered one-third as many calls as it does now.
"It takes a lot of work and a lot of time -- all of it volunteer time -- to be a firefighter," said Jim Haines. "The pay you get out of it is the knowledge that you're helping the community."
The company's new building will be dedicated May 21. Information: 756-6781.
Congratulations to Pat Bell of Taneytown, who was recently named HomeCall's Employee of the Month.
Pat, a home health aide, was nominated by her supervisors for the honor. Pat, one of the most nurturing people anywhere, feels flattered by the award.
"I can best help the families in need by giving their loved one the best care, physically and emotionally, that I possibly can," she said.
Laura Wailes of Taneytown is one of 16 skilled crafts people who will be showing and selling handcrafts in "Home for the Holidays," a juried craft show held at the New Windsor Service Center Gymnasium tomorrow and Saturday. Hours are 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Laura sculpts one-of-a-kind cottages, barns, churches, toad houses -- these really protect your garden toads from the sun -- and even miniature outhouses from stoneware clay. Her collection depicts the architecture of Carroll County, and is useful as well as decorative. Many houses contain a night light that casts soft shadows from windows.
Other crafts to be represented at the show will be batik designs, baskets, hand-painted china, jewelry, dolls, wearable art and more. Information: 876-5421.
Treat yourselves and your families to a unique experience Sunday, when a sign choir from Christ United Methodist Church of the Deaf of Baltimore performs at Uniontown United Methodist Church at 7 p.m.
The sign choir performs familiar hymns to taped and live music.