Members hope to add a banquet hall to the new building.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
COLUMBIANA -- The American Legion Benjamin Firestone Post 290 will soon have a new home.
Joe Fittante, post commander, said work on the post's new quarters at 44403 state Route 14 was stalled by foul weather, but contractors have been making rapid progress in recent weeks.
The $380,000 building is under roof, and glass block windows are to be installed soon, Fittante said. Contractors are working on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, and plumbing and electrical work has been completed, he said.
Legion members have been meeting at the nearby 40 & amp; 8 Club since they put the nearly 90-year-old post at 33 N. Pearl St. up for sale in 1997. With an aging membership, they chose to sell the two-story building rather than invest in repairs and remodeling to meet Americans With Disabilities Act requirements.
Losing members: Fittante said members are eager to move into the new building, because without a permanent home, the post has been losing members. The post has about 280 members now, but before the move the figure was well over 300, he said.
Fittante expects contractors will finish their work by mid-March, and then Legion members and other volunteers will be needed to lay floor tiles and do other finishing work.
Members have raised most of the money needed for the construction through donations, fund-raisers such as the annual Columbiana Street Fair, and through sale of bonds, Fittante said. Members are selling $100 bonds, and some donors have paid $10 each for the purchase of concrete block.
Banquet hall planned: Donations have slowed, but the Legion will borrow money to finish the project, he said. After the post is completed, members will then concentrate on raising an additional $300,000 to add a 400-seat banquet hall to the facility, Fittante said.
The banquet hall was in the original plans for the facility in 1997, but members put those plans on hold because liquor permits were not available. Now members will wait until they can raise additional funds.
Liquor OK'd: Village residents approved only the second liquor issue in the village since the repeal of Prohibition when Precinct C voters gave the Legion permission in March 2000 to sell alcohol at the new post.
Voters approved the Legion's request for sale of beer and liquor but denied a separate request for Sunday sales of the same. A request for on-premises consumption of beer, wine and liquor at the new post was denied in November 1996.
All village precincts voted against the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, and one liquor permit was approved three years later. Four other ballot measures were defeated, including a Precinct A-only vote for a carryout on Route 14 in 1993 and requests in 1971 and 1996 for wine, liquor and a state store.