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After more than a year without permanent roots, American Legion Post 13 is heading back to its old stomping grounds as the post builds a new headquarters at the Wilson County Fairgrounds.
“We looked, but we couldn’t find any existing buildings that fit our needs,” said Post 13 Commander Ed Costello. “They were all either too big or too small and we couldn’t get the one that would fit our needs.”
The Goldilocks situation caused former commander Marty Bartlett to petition the fair board to allow the post to construct a new building on the property. Costello said the fair has always been owned and operated in part by the Legion post and 12 of the 18 fair board members are also American Legion members.
“The fair and the American Legion post go hand-in-hand,” Costello said.
In January, the plan received the fair board’s go-ahead and Dawson Construction Services submitted the winning bid for the project. Construction got underway recently, but the metal building won’t be delivered until July.
“The building is 30-by-60 with a wall down the center to separate the two halves,” Costello said. “One half will be the meeting room while the other will have the bathrooms, office space and an area for the ladies auxiliary to meet.”
The retired Air Force master sergeant said the blue and gray building will be complemented with significant landscaping to go along with the U.S. 301 improvements. Construction will take about three months and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will allow the public to see the post’s new headquarters.
In the meantime, the 194 paid members are meeting at the city’s operations center. Costello said since selling the post’s former headquarters in February 2018, the group has held its meetings in various places around Wilson.
“It has made all we do a little more challenging, but we’re still doing the stuff for the city for Memorial Day and Veterans Day,” he said. “Our storage situation has been a little tough on us, though.”
Costello encouraged local veterans of all ages to consider joining the American Legion and being a part of the post’s next chapter.
“We’re the largest veterans organization,” he said. “We lobby Congress to get some of these Veterans Affairs bills passed and in the American Legion, you get the camaraderie that you had when you were in the service.”
For more information on the American Legion, visit www.legion.org/.