By Michael Shepherd
COOPERS MILLS — Just before the volunteer Coopers Mills Fire Department's annual benefit auction, thieves apparently made off with five items to be sold there.
Norman Best, a longtime Coopers Mills firefighter, said two lawnmowers, a snowblower, a leaf-shredder and a water pump were stolen from outside the Main Street fire station, probably Thursday morning.
He said the snowblower and leaf-shredder probably would have fetched $50 to $75 at the auction, while the mowers, which are typically donated secondhand and fixed before they're sold at the auction, could have gotten between $30 and $40.
"Those, at the time, were our big-ticket items," Best said. "All of these items would have fit in a pickup truck very easily."
This year's auction, at 10 a.m. Saturday, is going to benefit the department's building fund.
The department association has long been raising money to replace its century-old station, one of two satellite stations of the Whitefield Fire Department.
Members have said a new station probably will cost $250,000 to $500,000. Best said there's now around $120,000 in the fund, and auctions typically bring in $8,000 to $10,000 per year.
The department has sought donations to replace the items, and Best said many area businesses, including Hammond Lumber Co., Hussey's General Store in Windsor and The Home Depot in Augusta have pledged new items to replace the missing items, which were secondhand.
Best said "an amazing response" from those businesses and the public probably will mitigate the theft's effect. He said the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office is investigating.
"I think we're going to do better after this sad affair," he said.
Michael Shepherd — 621-5632
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