Annual Event At
A Chance To Help
BY KEN LITTLE
Six-year-old Andrew Rouse watched intently as Tusculum firefighter Jonathan Gunter poured ingredients into an ice cream maker.
He smiled broadly.
"I'm helping," the son of Tusculum firefighter Joe Rouse said.
The popular dessert was just one of the draws Saturday that helped make the annual Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department "Old-Fashioned Barbecue & Home-Made Ice Cream Supper" a rousing success.
Such fundraising events are essential to the well-being of Greene County's numerous volunteer fire companies.
At Tusculum, the annual barbecue is a major source of funding for the fire department, said longtime member Alan Corley, who is also a city commissioner.
"This is probably about 20 percent of our income for the year, so it's pretty important, and it's just good for the community to come out and see the trucks and see the department," Corley said.
Corley, who was on the serving line in the city maintenance building where the event was held, later said more than 400 customers were served.
"While we don't have exact figures yet, we should clear about $3,000 over expenses including meal sales, cookbook sales, and donations. A very successful day!
"Our community is good to us, and we appreciate the support," he said later in an email.
ICE CREAM POPULAR
Saturday's menu included Yoder's barbecue or a hot dog, baked beans, cole slaw and the Cadillac of desserts -- homemade ice cream, in a rainbow of flavors.
The selection included chocolate, Butterfinger, Reese's Cup, blueberry, strawberry, peach, cherry and banana, to name a few.
"I like the blueberry," said city Commissioner Barbara Britton, who was helping firefighters serve up the ice cream in cups.
Tusculum's fire trucks were on display, along with printed-out fire safety tips for diners to take home.
The Wings Air Rescue helicopter also touched down next to city hall. Many participants planned to attend the nearby Greeneville Astros baseball game after eating.
Unlike last year's event, the weather was accommodating.
The 2012 barbecue happened to be held during a record-setting heat wave in Greene County, with the mercury reaching a sweltering 104 degrees by mid-afternoon.
Saturday's weather, in the low 80s with moderate humidity, was quite tolerable by comparison.
"It's a lot cooler than last year, which is definitely a plus. We have had a pretty good crowd so far," fire Chief Stephen Harris said late in the afternoon.
"The ice cream is a big hit again," he added.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT VITAL
In a larger sense, community support of fundraising events is important to every volunteer fire department in the area, said Wesley Holt, 2013 chief of the Greene County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments.
"That's how they survive. It's extremely important," Holt said. "You're looking at 90 percent of their livelihood coming from the public."
The Greene County Commission allocates $5,000 for each of the 14 volunteer fire departments in the county, and pays their insurance premiums, which covers workers compensation, buildings, trucks, and liability.
But a big gap remains for each volunteer fire department that must be made up through events such as barbecue suppers, cookbook sales, tractor pulls, door-to-door solicitation and boot drives.
Holt cited expenses facing each volunteer department. He said a new truck costs more than $200,000, and it costs up to $1,800 to outfit each volunteer with firefighting gear.
That's where assistance from the public comes in.
"Whether they give a dollar or $100 or $1,000, every little bit is important to them," Holt said.
PUBLIC PITCHES IN
Citizens from Tusculum and beyond came out Saturday to support the fire department.
Bob Husick and his wife Judy, of Chuckey Highway, attend the fundraising event most years.
"Everything is good. We had barbecue, a few beans and some cole slaw and homemade ice cream," he said.
Husick and his wife also go to similar fundraisers held by other area volunteer fire departments.
"It helps the fire departments and local towns," he said. "We try to attend them all."
Preparing the food and serving it was a team effort by members of the volunteer fire department and others from the community who pitched in.
Harris said everyone connected with the barbecue supper did a great job.
"I am very proud of my members and their wives and families for helping make it a big success. Without everyone's help there is no way we could have pulled it off," he said.