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Published: Thursday, 3/18/2010

Hayes Center requests equipment aid after fire

FREMONT — With much of its maintenance equipment destroyed in a March 6 fire, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center is asking for help.

Development Director Kathy Boukissen is looking for businesses or individuals willing to donate or loan equipment to the center to take care of the immediate needs at the 25-acre site.

All of the center's maintenance equipment was stored in a brick carriage house behind the Hayes home and museum that was damaged by fire accidentally set by an 8-year-old boy playing with a propane torch.

Two commercial-grade lawn mowers, power snow removal equipment, a tractor with a front-end loader, and a 1-ton pickup with a hydraulic-lift bed were destroyed in the fire. Officials said that until insurance claims are settled, the center cannot care for its grounds.

A nonprofit organization, the Hayes Presidential Center already has been struggling to reconcile a 45 percent cut in state funding. It has reduced staff, hours, salaries and benefits, closed the Dillon House, and canceled its popular Victorian Tea series.

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