WESTMINSTER — As firefighters worked to tame a six-alarm blaze that destroyed two Main Street stores Nov. 17, nearby business owners scurried to softenthe blow.
Domino's Pizza delivered pizzas, LaStrada Groceria passed out coffee and ham sandwiches to firefighters, and the Stewart N. Dutterer Flower Shop lent space to a competitor whose shop was damaged in the fire.
Yesterday, the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce gave its "Hats Off" award to the three businesses at a breakfast meeting at FriendlyFarm Restaurant.
The late-afternoon fire destroyed Stem's Used Furniture & Appliances and Heagy's Sports Shop at 14 and 16 W. Main St.Adjacent buildings, which house The Flower Box, White's Bicycles andWhite's Emporium, also were damaged.
"The severity of the tragic incident was softened" by help from the businesses, chamber past president Dwight O. Dingle said as he presented the awards.
LaStrada owner Kay D'Eugenio said she couldn't have provided the food and coffee without help from others, including Len and Chris Joseph and Cal and Sue Bloom, who own businesses in Winchester Exchange, where LaStrada is located.
D'Eugenio said she probably made 50 pots of coffee and 300 sandwiches that night, with help from the Sheetz store on MainStreet and SuperFresh on Englar Road.
Jayne Haines, marketing coordinator for Domino's, said the store delivered 15 pizzas to the firescene.
"We believe the community is our biggest supporter, so we'd like to support the community as much as we can," she said.
Ken and Eileen Gist, owners of the Dutterer Flower Shop, gave employees of The Flower Box a place to work and store supplies while their shop was repaired.
Ken Gist said, "We were all one big happy family."
Also at the breakfast, the chamber gave Hats Off awards to three businesses that have expanded or added new equipment in recent years:
* Carroll County General Hospital was recognized for the improvements and additions it has made, including a new psychiatric unit, a dialysis facility, a cardiac catheterization and angiography suite and more outpatient services.
"The last three years have been very progressive years for the hospital," CCGH Executive Vice President John Sernulka said.
Later this year, the hospital will break ground on a$5.1 million project that will include an expansion of emergency andsurgical services and a modernized obstetrics and labor and deliveryarea.
* Carroll Haven, which offers programs for the developmentally disabled, was honored for its new $1.13 million building on Bishop Street in Westminster.
Executive Director Richard Glaser said the building has boosted the morale of clients and staff -- in part because every room has windows.
The group received $450,000 in donations for the building, which doesn't have a mortgage, he said.
* Johnson Graphics Inc., a Westminster printing company, was recognized for the five-color Heidelberg printing press it purchased.
The press updated the company's equipment and enables it to print "anything,"President Bob Johnson said.
Johnson said he has been in the printing business for 46 years, "and I still enjoy what I do."