Paid in full – a celebration

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Elgin department burns note on $250,000 loan

By Jamey Shepherd

You can enjoy the Elgin Volunteer Fire Department’s tasty barbecue today and Saturday.
But members of the department, the community helpers who assist with the barbecue and some current and past Lancaster County officials got a taste of it at a special event Thursday.
The event wasn’t just a preview of coming attractions – it was a celebration of an accomplishment of the Elgin department and those volunteers who make its twice-yearly barbecue possible.
This barbecue takes a lot of work to pull off, as about 8,600 pounds of meat are prepared in three cookings over the week in pits behind the station. The department’s volunteers and about 70 community helpers team up to work the barbecue in March and November.
For the last seven years, proceeds from barbecue sales have mainly been used to pay for the department’s ladder truck.
The Elgin department got the truck in May 2003 through a co-purchase agreement with the county. The county paid for half of the truck and the department has paid for the other half. The $250,000 loan was the largest capital expenditure ever for the department, which was founded in 1953.
The department made its last payment on the truck a few months ago and formally celebrated the accomplishment Thursday when Fire Chief Dennis Cauthen burned a copy of the note.
Before he burned the note, Cauthen thanked the community helpers and volunteer firefighters for their work on the barbecues.
“We couldn’t have done this without you guys,” he said. “You all made it happen.”
County Council Chairman Rudy Carter, a former chief with the department, told the crowd that the co-purchase agreement for the truck came about after department officials approached the county.
“Chap (Hurst) was county administrator at the time when we approached the county to pay for half of the truck,” he said. “He said, ‘Y’all are willing to pay half of the $500,000?’ And we said, ‘Hell, yeah, we’re willing to pay half on the $500,000 truck.’”
The ladder truck has been put to use many times over the last seven years, including in August 2008, when it played a vital role in putting out the fire at the historic Lancaster County Courthouse in downtown Lancaster.
When Cauthen set fire to a copy of the loan note on the ladder truck, the paper quickly turned to ash.
“Yay,” some people yelled, and about everyone in the crowd applauded.
The celebration moved inside the department, where the crowd sat down to enjoy fellowship and their special barbecue.
They also had a special cake for dessert. Inscribed on top of the cake were words that emphasized the theme of the day. It said: “Together we accomplished much.”