No drops hurt local fire companies

C ould this be the end of a long-standing fundraising activity?

After Whitehall police responded to a complaint from a Whitehall resident concerning the traffic pattern being blocked on Poultney Street due to an American Legion coin drop fundraiser, members of the local fire companies expressed concern that they would also be targeted.

“We do our coin drops Thanksgiving weekend,” said Jim Putorti, president of the Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Company and a Whitehall town councilman.

The coin drop for 2010 has been canceled.

“I do not want to put my men out there and have them being arrested,” Putorti said.

Putorti said in previous years, the company usually takes in about $6,000 during the weekend event, which has been held on Poultney Street.

“We would like it to go toward special projects, but lately we have had to use that money toward helping us to pay our mortgage,” said Putorti. “It is a significant amount to lose. Really, a village contract would be the only thing that would supplement what we would be losing.”

Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company Chief Bryan Brooks said that his company recently raised about $10,000 to help fund the purchase of a rescue jack.

“We had a coin drop in September and October that brought in just over $5,000 a piece,” said Brooks. “It has helped us procure equipment that we would have never been able to buy just on the money that we get. Coin drops help us get that little bit extra that helps the community.”

Brooks said he is concerned for all of the local companies.

“I would say that this would be a significant impact on all of the emergency services,” said Brooks. “We rely on that money to pay above and beyond. It’s very difficult to go out and get the amount of money that you can going out and doing a coin drop. If you go from a state road to a village road, you are not going to get the traffic.”

Brooks added that having the coin drops on Poultney Street also bring in people who may have been helped by rescue services after being involved in an accident who want to give back.

“We get people who come through and say that they were in an accident around here and want to give back to say thank you,” said Brooks. “The truck drivers are always very supportive.”

Brooks said while he has never received official word on whether or not the companies can continue to do their coin drops, he has spoken with a state representative about the matter.

“We called (Sen.) Betty Little already and we are trying to get them to push a law that she introduced a couple of years ago to make it legal to allow emergency services to operate coin drops in 30-mph zones,” said Brooks. “I don’t think it got out of committee last time, but we’re hopeful that we can get that put into place.”

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