Legion Post once told to vacate for DOT project finds new home
In April members of Samuel C. Hart American Legion Post were trying to determine where they would make their new home.
The 92-year-old Post was told it had to vacate the South Main Street property to make way for an ongoing N.C. Department of Transportation rail project.
Work included construction of a bridge over the Legion property to Peeler and Cedar Springs roads. The bridge would replace the railroad crossings at Peach Orchard and Peeler roads.
Now just six months later, the Legion has found a new home at 5865 S. Main St., just a few miles from their old one. The building is located south of Be Bops. The Legion Post rented building for nearly three months and now has bought what once was Shooters pool hall.
The long road to get to the new home wasn’t exactly easy, but members are pleased with the outcome and new location.
Post Commander John Taylor said it is more than three times the size of the former Legion Post building.
In 2012, a construction crew began drilling on the former property and subsequently the veterans discovered they were in the middle of the rail project. NCDOT officials told Taylor they thought the property was vacant. The Legion Post had been in the same location for 35 years.
The men received a deadline that they said wasn’t enough time to find a new location and move. They maintained they weren’t fighting the eviction, but just needed for more time. In April, they were granted a 30-day extension.
NCDOT made an offer for the property, but members said it wasn’t enough to help them move and find a new place. Taylor said there was three weeks of negotiations before they settled on an outcome agreeable to all parties.
During their initial search for a place, members were interested in the former Kiwanis Club building but later settled on their current place.
After getting money from DOT for the move, the Legion got a loan from F&M Bank, Taylor said, and now the building is theirs.
Members are relieved, Taylor said, because “there were some sleepless nights.”
Now members can breathe easier.
“It’s like, we did it,” Taylor said letting out a big breath.
Ready to occupy
The building was virtually move-in ready, with the exception of a few minor repairs, including re-wiring. Members would still like to change a few things, but they feel as though most of the hardest work has been done.
Taylor said the members look forward to being able to have veterans and military personnel stop by for social events. They want to have a place they can rent out for special occasions.
“Now we can start getting back to the business,” Taylor said.
Vice Commander Chuck Morefield said membership has even increased since the group moved into its new location.
He and Taylor believe they’ve gained new members because the facility is bigger, allowing them more amenities that they can offer potential members.
The members are hosting a free Halloween Bash open to all veterans, military personnel and their guests or family members. The event is Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. The event is also to celebrate the Legion’s grand re-opening. Mystic Band will perform.
The Legion will have an ongoing fundraiser for Operation North State, which provides soldiers with gift boxes filled with North Carolina products during the holidays.
The Legion is accepting monetary donations toward the project and will match all donations up to $500. There will be a Halloween costume contest with first, second and third place prizes.
For more information about Samuel C. Hart American Legion Post, call 704-856-8865.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: www.twitter.com/salpostpotts Facebook: www.facebook.com/Shavonne.SalisburyPost.