B y Dan King

Those who volunteer their time to serve the people of Whitehall say their coin drop operations have taken a monetary hit, largely because of traffic delays caused by the construction work on the Poultney Street Bridge.

Julie Eagan, a member of the Skenesborough EMS, said that during the most recent coin drop the squad was getting contributions from drivers headed west toward Fort Ann, but those headed east toward Fair Haven, Vt., have been frustrated with the single-lane traffic and have not donated as much.

“People were so mad because they got caught up in the traffic jam,” she said. “It was miserable. People were throwing change at us, opening their doors at us and swearing at us, because they thought we were causing all the traffic.”

Members of both the Skenesborough EMS and the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Co. said they’ve noticed a substantial decrease in coin drop contributions because of the traffic issues at the Poultney Street Bridge.

The village of Whitehall years ago permitted coin drops next to the armory on Route 4, but the village no longer regulates coin drops.

Skenesborough EMS usually conducts its annual coin drop around Memorial Day weekend.

While coin drop revenue is down for the squad, officials estimated that ending their coin drop would cost the department $5,000 to $6,000 a year in lost revenue.

Whitehall Volunteer Fire Co. has also taken a slight hit in the pocket from the bridge closure.

“The coin drops have been horrendous,” Brian Brooks, former president of the fire company told the town board, when pitching the idea of a fire district earlier this month. “The bridge project has really screwed us up.”

The company usually conducts three coins drops a year, but because of the bridge closure they’ve had to cut out some coin drops altogether.

A document that Brooks gave to the board said: “We did not have enough members willing to conduct the June coin drop. The bridge has impacted revenue in 2014. In 2013, members raised over $29,000 towards the fire company operations. That figure dropped to only $15,128.65 in 2014, not including a generous gift of $10,110 from the estate of Arthur Galloway.”

In 2014, coin drop revenue amounted to $9,150.75 for the fire company, which is a marked decrease from previous years. Luckily for the fire company, it averages around $9,000 from its annual letter campaign and secures grants frequently.

“We receive $32,350 per year in grants,” Brooks said. “Compared to a lot of departments, we do very well. A lot of them are lucky to get one or two grants.”

Brooks, though, added: “It’s getting hard to get a grant.”

The fire company also accepts donations through Paypal on its website, both for its general fund and to fund its training center.

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