Parking was scarce but food and friendship plentiful on a sunny Sunday morning at the Company No. 3 firehouse in Lake Hill, as Woodstockers turned out in droves on October 21 for the company’s first pancake breakfast gathering since its former treasurer was arrested and charged with embezzling more than $200,000 in company funds.
Near the midpoint of the three-hour fundraising event, which began at 8 a.m., drivers circled the firehouse parking lot off Route 212, hoping that some fellow resident, having had his or her fill of pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages, juice, and coffee, would soon depart, freeing up space for a new arrival.
After the last flapjack had been flipped, reported the company’s current treasurer, James Dougherty, a total of 207 breakfasts had been served and $1,496 in gross proceeds, along with $215 in donations, collected.
“Our gross proceeds for this breakfast were twice what they usually are,” said Dougherty in an e-mail message, to which he attached a worksheet detailing the income from the event. The treasurer, who took office on January 1 of this year, noted that the company’s pancake breakfast fundraisers, long a staple of local community life, typically generated a gross deposit of $700 and donations in the range of $50.
Seated at a table inside the door, Dougherty and Roseann Maclary, a longtime member of the fire company’s Ladies Auxiliary, greeted and collected admission fees and donations from arriving breakfastgoers. Elsewhere in the room, company members circulated among the crowded tables, replenishing food platters and coffee cups, while colleagues in the kitchen cooked and brewed fresh fare for the next wave of diners.
Dougherty’s predecessor, Dale Hughes, who served as the company’s treasurer from 1997 to 2011, was arrested at his Lake Hill residence on October 11 and charged with second-degree grand larceny. The charge issued from an audit and investigation by the state comptroller’s office, which alleged that from 2006 to 2011 the former treasurer illicitly cashed checks for more than $200,000 while also pocketing an estimated $21,000 in cash proceeds from pancake breakfasts.
Hughes, who has yet to enter a plea, appeared at a preliminary hearing in the Woodstock Justice Court on October 17 and is scheduled for a second appearance in the same court on November 28. When approached outside the courtroom after the recent hearing, Hughes declined to discuss the case, citing the advice of his attorney. (See Woodstock Times, October 18, 2012.)