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Rensselaer Falls fire department hosts auction May 5

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RENSSELAER FALLS — There is no telling what might be on the auction block May 5 at the Rensselaer Falls fire hall, 424 Rensselaer St.

“We’ve had cars before. One year we sold dogs. We’ve even sold an outhouse at this auction,” said volunteer Fire Chief Jeffrey S. Hammond. “It’s the time every year that the community steps up to help the fire department that helps them.”

Since Harry M. Stiles Jr. auctioneered the first event in 1996, according to Mr. Hammond, the auction has served as a major annual fundraiser for the department, drawing support from neighboring communities such as Canton, Ogdensburg, Morristown and Gouverneur.

“Surrounding communities are very good to us. This is really a joint effort between communities, businesses, and members of the department and public,” he said, adding that all proceeds from the auction go toward equipment purchases, such as new turnout gear.

This year, the department is looking to upgrade its radios due to new federal mandates, Mr. Hammond said.

“Fire departments in the county are going through a phase to upgrade their radio transmitting capabilities. We’re being told we have to integrate our radio systems to a narrower band, Mr. Hammond said, indicating that between $1,200 and $2,000 is needed for two mobile and one portable radio units.

Leading the charge for gathering items and organizing the auction for the past decade has been longtime department supporter Shelly A. Planty, who said this year’s efforts have been spurred by local Amish.

“There isn’t a fire department around that puts on an auction like we do,” Mrs. Planty said. “We’ll have a tremendous amount of Amish goods — chairs, rockers, quilts, end tables, an oak bookshelf, baskets. No other fire department has Amish help.”

Along with Amish-made items, the auction will feature hunting and fishing gear, tools, sporting goods, baby and infant items, clothing, jewelry, horse tack, food and beverages, maple syrup products, electronics, home-improvement materials, holiday decorations, a riding lawn mower, and more than 75 gift certificates from businesses.

“From trinkets to high-end items, anything and everything you can think of,” Mrs. Planty said. “This is not a three-hour auction. It’s a full day.”

Bob Kosman, of Kosman Auctions & Realty, Lisbon, will kick off the 16th Annual Rensselaer Falls Volunteer Fire Department Auction at 9 a.m. May 5 at the fire hall.

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