Friday, March 09, 2012
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From left: Lincoln firefighters Tim Aper and Bret Tripplett, Chief Mark Miller, and Karen Hargis and Jim Youngquist of Lincoln Daily News

Lincoln Fire Department receives a gift from local businesses

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[March 09, 2012]  This week Jim Youngquist, co-owner of Lincoln Daily News, and Karen Hargis, the director of advertising for LDN, paid a visit to the Lincoln Fire Department. The purpose of the trip was to talk about the fire safety coloring books LDN has just completed for the fire department.

HardwareOver the last several months, LDN has been working on putting together a product the city firefighters can use throughout the year, but especially in the fall when they do their special fire safety training at all the Lincoln elementary schools.

While LDN put the books together, the real heart of this story is the local businesses that came together and helped fund the project.

When Hargis started working on gathering sponsorships for the coloring book, she knew she had to get enough to pay for the design of the book and the printing costs.

With other big projects going on, such as the annual Business Directory and the Farm Outlook magazine, she expected it might be difficult to get sponsors to write out one more check.

However, much to her surprise, once word got out that the book was being done, that it would be gifted to fire department and in turn given to local children, sponsors started calling her.

"I got calls, and someone would say, 'I hear you're doing a coloring book. I want to be part of that,'" Hargis said.

In the end 22 local businesses bought into the book, allowing LDN to cover all the costs of producing the book and order enough copies that the fire department will be well stocked for the coming year.

The local advertisers who participated are Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, Best Western Plus, Carpet House, Castle Manor, Eaton, Fire Apparatus & Supply Team, Friendship Manor, Graue Inc., Guzzardo's Italian Villa, H&R Block, Illinois American Water, Lincoln Christian University, Lincoln Heating & Cooling, Lincoln Logan/May Enterprise Insurance, Lincoln McDonald's, Logan County Bank, Maple Ridge Care Centre, McEntire Roofing, Montessori Children's House of Lincoln, Moriearty and Harris-Hodnett Insurance, St. Clara's Manor, and State Bank of Lincoln.

In addition, Doug and Jennifer Brickey of Brickey Printing & Photography contributed a huge portion to the project in the extra work they put into the coloring book.

Hargis explained that when the book went to the printer, the bright red color of the cover was causing drag marks on the pages. Instead of letting it go, the Brickeys and their staff fed the pages through their printer one at a time, following with a white paper to absorb the drag marks. At no extra charge, they also did a semigloss coating on the cover to lock in the color so it would not rub off on children's hands.

Youngquist commented on the Brickeys' commitment to the project, saying they did way more than was expected to in order to produce a product the fire department could be proud to give to area children.

Tuesday afternoon, firefighters Tim Aper, Bret Tripplett and Chief Mark Miller were at the station to talk about the books as well.

Aper and Tripplett are the ones primarily responsible for coordinating the weeklong school visit program in the public schools each fall, and all the firefighters take turns visiting the schools on their daily shifts.

Aper said the fire department has very little funding for educational materials, but they visit approximately 1,100 children in the public schools during the year. "Some of the kids get to know us and they remember us from year to year, but giving them something they can have and take home with them is really important," he said.

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He added that the department had looked into making a purchase of coloring books and found they just didn't have the budget for it, as it would have been a $4,000 to $6,000 investment. In addition, he said they had looked for other sources, but what they found that was available at little or no cost was so out of date. "The people in the pictures looked like they were from the 1960s," he said.

Tripplett said he thought the product LDN has turned out for them is a valuable tool that the department would not have been able to provide.

When the book was being put together, a lot of hours went into it, not only on the part of LDN, but also by Aper and Tripplett. Pages were drafted and taken to the department for the two to view and comment on changes that might need to be made.

In addition, the chief drafted a letter to parents, and it is a part of the finished product.

Tripplett also commented on that, saying: "The 'Dear Parent' letter is really a big deal. We hope it will get parents involved in fire safety."

The book is a coloring book the kids can enjoy, but it is also a teaching tool. Pages contain fire safety lessons and information that children can learn and share. When they have gone through their entire book, they can bring the certificate of completion on the back cover to the fire department and Chief Miller will sign it for them.

Youngquist, who is the chief graphic artist for the paper, was given credit for the layout design of the project, but he was quick to say he was not solely responsible for anything. "There were a lot of eyes on the project, and that is why it turned out as well as it did," he said. "It wasn't just one person."

Hargis was the one who came up with the idea of doing the book. She explained she had read a comment by Chief Miller in one of his monthly reports that is published in LDN, indicating that the department didn't have the resources for such things. "I thought, well, we can do that," she said.

As the director of advertising for LDN, Hargis is in the business of selling the ads that make payroll possible for LDN. "We sell advertising to make money," she said without apology, "but we also want the community to know we can do things because we care."

Like the Brickeys, who went above and beyond to produce a nice book for the department and in turn, for the kids, the work done by LDN was a matter of doing what you can, when you can, with the talents you have.

In the end, though, the ones who deserve the thanks are the sponsors. LDN would encourage everyone to take note of those who paid the way for this project and be sure to let them know they are appreciated.


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