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Haunted Firehouse raises $14K

Each October during Lions Radio Day, one man in the county gets to take an illustrious title as his own – one that allows him to ride on a porcelain throne in Greenville’s annual Christmas Parade.

John Haire, building inspector for the City of Greenville and hardworking volunteer in the Greenville Firefighters Association Haunted House each autumn, was named “Ugliest Man in Butler County 2008-2009.”

The award is definitely given in a spirit of fun, with plenty of good-natured ribbing to be had by the winner each year.

“I guess revenge is sweet,” Haire said with a grin as he spoke to members of the Greenville Lions Club Monday.

“I’ve worked hard to get other people chosen for this, and I guess it was my turn. And it is kind of an honor – I guess.”

Voters called in their nominations and votes to Q-94 last Wednesday during the Greenville Lions’ only annual fundraiser. Radio Day chair Ricky Cargile said sponsors had committed almost $10,000 in donations for the event. The funds raised through Radio Day go to support many sight-related as well as youth leadership projects locally, nationally and internationally.

Haire and his fellow association volunteers just wrapped up a successful fundraiser of their own – The GFA’s Fifth Annual Haunted House.

Haire said the event, held in a Norman Road house donated for the purpose by Kenny Solomons of Greenville, drew visitors from across Butler County and beyond.

“We had people from Evergreen, Troy, Monroeville, Dothan – a lot of folks have visited our website and found out about us,” Haire said.

Haire said he and the other volunteers have “a lot of fun” putting together the annual fright fest, which takes many weekends and late hours of work to prepare each year.

“There’s just something about seeing a big ol’ linebacker fall out . . . that is very funny,” he said. All the chills, thrills and laughter have a serious purpose.

While approximately 60 percent of the proceeds will go back into a “bigger and better haunted house” next year, the rest goes to worthy causes, Haire said.

“We donate money to the annual MDA Fill the Boot Campaign; we aid people who have been burned out of their houses, and we purchase supplies for the fire department not covered in the annual budget,” Haire said.

The monies raised also go into a Hardship Fund for firefighters who are out of work and need financial assistance.

“We are also planning to start a scholarship fund for the children of firefighters. Just look at what it costs now for tuition. We want to be able to help them out,” Haire said.

He said an estimated $14,000 had been raised at this year’s haunted house.