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Pontiac-opoly

Emily Jo Miller, commercial loan specialist at First Financial Bank in Pontiac, together with co-worker Jennifer Heinrich, created Pontiac-opoly, a Monopoly takeoff that features Pontiac businesses and landmarks, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. The game is sold at the bank. (The Pantagraph, David Proeber)

PONTIAC -- Emily Jo Miller thought she had the perfect Christmas gift for her husband's grandfather, Dean Miller.

For the last six months, she and Jenny Heinrich, both employees of First Financial Bank in Pontiac, have been working on a Relay for Life fundraiser concept of the Parker Brothers Monopoly game but with Pontiac businesses and landmarks on the board spaces and cards.

The games are called Pontiac-opoly.

Dean Miller loves it. So much so, he won't let anyone play.

"He said that it is only to look at, and he didn't want to take the chance on getting it dirty or anything," Miller said. "So we may have to get him another one, so he can play."

The game features 40 spots and 28 game cards that were sold to various businesses. That raised $7,000, enough to pay for the production cost through a Cincinnati-based company called Late For The Sky Productions. The company produced 750 games that are sold for $25 each.

The women anticipate sales to generate at least $12,000 for Relay for Life.

"It's been an interesting road," Heinrich said. "It hasn't come without roadblocks, but in the end, it was all worth it."

Heinrich is in her third year of raising money for Relay for Life. Last July, while selling raffle tickets, she had an idea that tickets might sell easier if they looked like Monopoly cards. After talking with Miller, the idea of producing a full-scale game moved forward quickly.

Heinrich went online and found Late For The Sky Productions.

"They have been doing this for a long time and know all of the copyright issues and how to avoid getting us in trouble," Miller said. "That was a huge help to us, because this is the first time we had ever attempted something like this. Until you do it, you don't realize the hurdles that are there."

Instead of Boardwalk and Park Place, there are Pfaff's Bakery and Mario's Pizza. Other restaurants, insurance companies, car repair shops and all four Pontiac museums are represented in the game.

"That went fairly smoothly, but our main problem came from our lack of graphic arts knowledge," Heinrich said. "We are not technically savvy."

But Scott McCoy and Shawn Jensen volunteered their efforts to prepare the game for production. "What a huge help they were," Miller said.

The six game pieces also have a connection to Pontiac. There are no race cars or thimbles. Instead, there is a swinging bridge, a bank, a trolley, a shopping cart, a tractor and a star, to represent Relay for Life.

So far, more than 250 of the games have been sold.

"The feedback we have received so far has been very positive," Heinrich said. "They are great for current citizens of Pontiac and even for those who have moved away."

The Livingston County Relay for Life is scheduled for Aug. 3 and the pair hopes to have all 750 sets sold by then. The games are located at First Financial Bank, 223 N. Mill St.

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