Business group gives back

They’ve had bake sales and bingos and other fund-raisers to pay down the debt on the new $350,000 full-service rescue pumper sitting at the ready, so when the Greater Verona Business Association called and said they’d write them a check for $1,000, the folks at the Verona Volunteer Fire Co. knew what to do.
“We can use all the help we can get,” said George Weller, one of the three remaining charter members from the Co.’s founding in March 1959, 50 years ago this month, accepting a check from GVBA president Steve Wittenberg of Clear Channel Radio.

To Wittenberg, the move of the Business Association to help out their friends at the Fire Co. was a no-brainer.

“As a community organization, we felt it was necessary for us to step up to show our support and hopefully lead other businesses in the area to make contributions and donations to help pay for this great piece of equipment,” said Wittenberg of the Association, which was founded in 1981 and has 45 business and professional members on its roster.

The rescue pumper meets a great need for the Verona Volunteer Fire Co. “We run so many calls, especially EMS calls. It used to just be fire calls, but we run so many EMS calls that we need that truck. It carries everything for extrication, for wrecks, it carries the drug box, everything for emergency calls,” Weller said.

“So whereas before we might have had to have two or three vehicles, having this one makes it easier for us to do what we’re asked to do now,” Weller said.

The costs of doing business as a volunteer fire department are a bit different from what they were back in 1959. “The Ruritan Club and other clubs in Verona wanted to have a fire department because we were so far from the county fire department,” said Weller, who remembers that the club found a 1946 Ford fire truck for sale in Maryland for $600.

Rockingham National Bank and the Verona Lions Club loaned the new department the money to buy the truck, Weller remembers.

The $600 truck is still on display in the bay, parked a few feet away from its $350,000 cousin.

“Things sure have changed a lot in 50 years,” Weller said.

– Story by Chris Graham

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