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Baker’s American Legion Post struggling financially
By Jayson Jacoby
The future of a veterans’ organization that’s been active in Baker City for more than half a century is in jeopardy.
The American Legion Post 41, which owns a club at 2129 Second St., is struggling financially.
Garry McLin, a Vietnam-era veteran who joined the Legion in 1981, said he thought last Friday might be the club’s final day.
Members donated enough money to restock the club’s bar — its main source of revenue, McLin said — but the situation doesn’t seem sustainable to him.
The Legion also received an anonymous donation of $420, said Bud Rodli, the club’s bar manager.
“It’s a moribund kind of deal going on,” Rodli said. “You need to get people in the front door.”
Actually the Legion needs two things, McLin said.
In addition to attracting customers to the club — which is open to all adults, not just Legionnaires — Post 41 is suffering from a lack of new, dues-paying members.
Although joining the Legion (and the Veterans of Foreign Wars) was a popular thing among World War II veterans, McLin said veterans of later conflicts, including Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan, generally aren’t interested.
Rodli said Post 41 has about 140 to 180 regular members, but with membership fees topping out at $35, the dues simply aren’t sufficient to keep the club going.
(Also, the local post has to send some dues to the national Legion organization.)
The other source of money is the club.
McLin credits Rodli for his efforts to attract more non-member visitors — a recent pool tournament for women brought in about 20 competitors, for instance.
But creating a reliable clientele has proved difficult.
“We’ve been penny-pinching,” Rodli said.
In the past, Post 41 also put on frequent dinners and other fundraisers, but with membership dwindling it’s hard to arrange such events, he said.
The sluggish economy of the past several years hasn’t helped.
“It’s a symptom of the times, I’m afraid,” Rodli said.
If there’s reason for optimism, he said, it’s that more people are becoming aware of the Post’s plight.
“The word is getting out,” Rodli said.
Megan Cloyd is helping to spread that word.
She has organized a fundraising barbecue starting at noon on May 31 at the club.
The menu includes a cheeseburger with fries for $3, and a hot dog with fries for $2.
Little Susie’s Meat Market in Baker City donated the hot dogs, Cloyd said.
There’s also a donation box at the club.
The club usually is open Monday through Saturday starting at 3 p.m., Rodli said.
The official closure time is 9 p.m., but the club will stay open later if customers ask, he said.