Wampsville man to receive award

Clarence Wm. Collins will be honored for 50 years of volunteer service with the Wampsville Fire Department during the Canastota Area Association of Churches annual dinner. Collins said he joined because most of his friends belonged and he "felt the need to help out the fire department."

Collins became an official member of the department in 1958, before the firemen's hall existed. He owned and operated Collin's Overhead Door Company on Route 5 in the village. One day he was approached by a man who wanted to sell him a piece of land.

"I told him I wasn't looking to buy any land but I would ask the fire department," Collins said. "He was asking $10,000."

The property was a 17-acre plot on Court Street where firemen's hall now sits. Collins said the man ended up letting the department have the land for $5,000 and the new bingo hall was built. The department later acquired more of the property. Bingo paid for the building, Collins said. He said he remembers working bingo several times a month. Collins also donated the backhouse to the department when they first opened the hall and surrounding grounds in the early 1960s.

Collins has held the positions of fire chief and president with Wampsville. He remembers a large barn fire on South Court Street many years ago when he was the first on the scene. Shortly after Collins' arrived a deputy sheriff showed up and the two of them helped rescue cows from the barn before the fire department got there. Collins said they saved most of the animals, all but about four or five.

Collins grew up in the village of Wampsville and was an Oneida High School graduate. While in high school he was a member of the New York State Company G (state guards). He planned to become part of the national guards but he graduated and got married and never got back into it.

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