Work going on at American Legion Post 64 in Marietta is meant to result in more than physical changes.
The non-brick exterior of the building has been painted, walls in the lounge repainted, the lounge's carpeted floor replaced with hardwood and external lights replaced with energy efficient models. With more improvements on the way, post Commander Regis Kern said he hopes to draw more members of the community to the facility for parties, receptions, dinners and dances.
"I think there was a time when people thought (the post) was closed to the public, but we've been promoting being open to the public," he said.
Outside of bar hours - which are limited to members and guests - most events at the post are open to anyone, including fish and steak fries and dances. The post also plays host to about 20 private parties and 15 to 20 weddings a year. Revenue from those activities goes toward operating costs and maintenance of the building as well as the post's charitable giving.
Recent donations have included $5,000 to the effort to build a smart home for wounded Army Pfc. Kyle Hockenberry and $5,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County. The post also sends care packages to troops serving overseas and keeps a supply of wheelchairs, walkers and even hospital beds to provide to people in the community who need them.
On average there are also 20 benefits a year held at the post, for which the Legion does not charge, Kern said.
Veterans Day weekend at Post 64
American Legion Post 64, at Eighth and Wooster streets in Marietta, will offer live music by Justin Arthur with James Perrine from 7 to 10 p.m. Nov. 9; no cover charge.
The post will hold a dinner and dance party, with dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 10, followed by Matt First and the Blue Collar Band from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. Admission is $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Admission to the dance only after 8 p.m. is $5 per couple or $3 per individual at the door.
A live auction will be held at 9 p.m.
Proceeds will benefit remodeling efforts at the post.
Both activities are open to the public.
The post provides honor guard services at veterans' funerals, an activity for which it receives donations. Those funds are earmarked for building maintenance.
Most of the recent work has been accomplished with the help of volunteers and donations from local businesses.
"Post members, Auxiliary, Sons (of the American Legion), everybody chipped in," Kern said, gesturing to the new paint job on the building. "We have a great crew of volunteers here."
The lights are part of a government-mandated energy efficiency upgrade by American Electric Power, Kern said. The post had to purchase the equipment, but will be receiving a rebate to help offset the cost. The installation is being done by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 972 members Dave Higgins and Jason Erb, using a bucket truck belonging to Black's Tree Service.
It was both the military service of the Legion members and the group's service to the community that motivated Black's owner Greg Black to donate the use of his equipment.
"Everybody that's a member of the Legion has fought or been in a war and represented our country," he said. "Everybody asks them to always give; they seldom get anything given to them."
Membership in the Legion is open to anyone who is currently on active duty in the military or served during eligible war eras dating back to World War I. Kern said the post is particularly trying to reach out to recent veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kern noted Sherwin-Williams and Lowe's contributed by providing discounts on supplies for the remodeling as well.
"That means a lot to us," he said of businesses' assistance.
Once the lighting upgrades are done, attention will shift to replacing the lights and ceiling in the lounge, Kern said. Labor is expected to again be donated, and money for materials is being raised through musical performances by Legion member Bruce Haas and fellow local musician Mike Starkey, he said.
Next on the agenda is remodeling the main ballroom and eventually replacing the roof.
Residential Home for the Developmentally Disabled executive director Lisa Reed said her organization has two gatherings each year at the post - an employee appreciation event and a Christmas party. She said the post is an excellent venue, and the planned improvements are just icing on the cake.
"It's convenient. Everybody knows the name, and it's a clean, safe area," she said. "Anything cosmetic that (they) do, it's just an additional perk for us."