ARE YOU celebrating the arrival of 2000 in the security of your home, church or other public building?
For that, many of us thank the men and women of Station 12: Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company.
Last year, the company responded to more than 4,500 calls for help. Time spent at emergencies and an equal amount, or more, spent servicing and maintaining the specialized equipment add up to thousands of volunteer hours each year.
FOR THE RECORD - Last week's Central County Neighbors column incorrectly reported that the Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company owns the paramedic unit based there and pays for a driver and a firefighter on its staff.
In fact, while the company purchased and owns its firefighting equipment, the paramedic unit at Earleigh Heights was purchased and is owned and maintained by the county. In addition, two professional firefighters and two paramedic crew members are on duty there at all times -- a total of 12 employees who work for and are paid by Anne Arundel County.
The Earleigh Heights company includes 34 active volunteer firefighters who respond to emergency calls, and more than 100 other members who assist in its efforts.
The Sun regrets the errors.
But this comes with a big price tag.
Most of the firefighters are volunteers, but the company pays for two staffers -- a driver and a firefighter -- plus equipment, insurance, and protective gear and tools.
All of the engines and equipment (except for a paramedic unit furnished by the county) are purchased by the volunteers and the women's auxiliary through fund-raisers such as bingo nights, bull and oyster roasts and room rentals.
Three engines and a paramedic unit are owned by the company, which is buying a new rescue squad vehicle that will cost $500,000.
Make a New Year's resolution to help these dedicated volunteers protect you and your family. (A donation of $55 amounts to about 15 cents a day.)
Send contributions to Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company Inc., Ritchie Highway and Magothy Bridge Road, P.O. Box 547, Severna Park 21146-9987.
The chamber's year
Linda Zahn, executive director of the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce, looks back on 1999 with satisfaction.
"The formation of the Chamber Foundation is one of our major accomplishments this year," said Zahn, who has been with the 40-year-old organization since 1989. "It will be a separate entity, like a right hand of the chamber.
"I see the foundation offering things like scholarships and community projects. It's a 501(c)(3), so people can give donations to it tax-exempt."
In the past 10 years, the chamber, which was organized by Severna Park businessman Walt Winklemeyer and a group of business people, has more than tripled its membership, from about 120 to almost 380, and moved into its own building.
Zahn said she is looking forward to increasing membership benefits in the new year. Members get the annual business guide and member-to-member discounts.
She said she hopes to offer members additional promotional opportunities.
Severna Park Baptist Church is offering those who want to quit smoking a "Christian approach to nicotine dependency."
Designed by Frances L. McClain, former program coordinator of the Nicotine Dependence Center and a behavioral therapist and addictions counselor at the Mayo Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., the program begins at 7 p.m. Monday.
Information: the church at 410-647-0765, or Peg Winner at 410-647-3335.
Getting in shape outdoors
The beginning of a new year often signals time to get back into shape.
Walking is good way to improve cardiovascular conditioning, but it doesn't do much for upper-body strength.
If you don't mind the cold, you'll appreciate additions to the county's B&A Trail Park.
Stewart Smith, a Naval Academy graduate, former Navy Seal and owner of the fitness center Get Fit Now, has donated materials for two new pull-up bar exercise stations along the trail.
The stations are behind Old Severna Park at Riggs Road and at McBride Road. A third station, at the Earleigh Heights Ranger Station, has been renovated.
For a list of outdoor events planned along the trail, call 410-222-6244.
Walking in the park
A variety of walking events are scheduled at Kinder Farm Park, and a park ranger will help observe and identify winter birds and animals.