Local legion closes doors

GREENFIELD — A local organization geared toward helping veterans is once again without a place to call home.

The Dale E. Kuhn American Legion Post 119 has vacated its headquarters in the Center Street Shoppes in Greenfield, citing financial trouble caused by a decline in active members.

Greenfield’s American Legion has more than 400 members on the rolls, but it’s hard to get people to come to meetings, post treasurer Tony Cross said.

Only about 15 people attend the monthly gatherings, leaders said.

The move marks the post’s second relocation in recent years, officials said. Members were forced to vacate their building at 275 Center St. in Greenfield in 2013 after a foreclosure. They moved across the street, to 278 Center St., but recently decided to forgo paying $800 a month to rent a building that was seldom used, Cross said.

Members of the Greenfield American Legion pay $44 a year in dues, but very few show up to meetings or participate in fundraising events that support the community, commander Gene Anderson said.

The post will conduct meetings going forward at the Greenfield Elks Lodge, 820 S. State St., and members said they will continue to raise awareness of the legion’s mission to support youth programming in the community while advocating a love of country and service.

“We want to focus on our membership, not on a building,” Cross said. “Greenfield deserves an American Legion.”

The American Legion’s financial issues began in 2005 after the organization purchased a 1.7-acre plot of land at 275 Center St. that once housed the Indiana Box Co.

Construction on the organization’s new building at that address began in the summer of 2008. The post opened the building’s doors for the first time a year later.

But the project cost the post $125,000, and members struggled to make payments throughout the recession, officials told the Daily Reporter at the time of the foreclosure.

Ultimately, some post members decided to leave the organization, and the reduction in membership further diminished the post’s revenue stream, leaders said.

The post’s financial woes have caused some legion-sponsored programs to go without funding, officials said. In past years, the legion sponsored a local Boy Scout Troop and provided education to area grade schools about the American flag, but those efforts have fallen by the wayside over the last two years, said Calinda Walker, former post commander.

Walker hopes to be able to reinstate some programming now that the legion is saving money on rent.

“It is on the agenda this year, so hopefully that works out,” she said.

About five years ago, the American Legion Honor Guard — a flag corps that presents at area ceremonies — split from the post and created the Greenfield Honor Guard, said commander Bob Workman. Workman, who still serves as the legion’s veterans’ services officer, said the group broke away because there weren’t enough legion members participating to serve the community effectively.

Legion leaders hope to combine American Legion Post 119 meetings with meetings of the local 40/8, another veteran organization that boasts 80 members locally.

By hosting joint meetings, both groups can increase attendance and get the word out about veterans’ activities in the community, Cross said.

The owners of Center Street Shoppes, Eric and Kris Spicer, say the American Legion didn’t give them any trouble as tenants.

“My family’s always supported them,” Kris Spicer said. “We hope for them to have continued success.”

Upcoming meeting

The Dale E. Kuhn American Legion Post 119 will continue to meet despite vacating its building. 

The group will use the Greenfield Elks Lodge, 820 S. State St., for gatherings. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Author photo
Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.