BUCKHANNON – The VFW Post 3663 is raising funds to repair damage caused by burst pipes on Christmas Eve.
VFW Post 3663 Auxiliary President Kathy Stalnaker said the VFW, located at 12 S. Kanawha St., experienced extensive damage when water pipes froze and burst due to extremely low temperatures.
“The gentleman was there this week, and they’ve just been working on the tear out. We’re working with Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration, so phase one was the tear out and they’re still working on that, and then the guy who’s in charge of the rebuild was there today, taking pictures and he’s working on his estimate now,” Stalnaker said.
The VFW does have property insurance for its building, but the deductible is significant.
“We’ve asked for donations to help but also given the extensive damage, we are also aware we probably need to do some updating to the facility that probably the insurance will cover, but it would be kind of silly not to do it now,” Stalnaker said. “We’re probably going to try to make some improvements to our kitchen, and the bathrooms and we aren’t sure what the insurance will cover and what it won’t, so we’re just trying to make sure we use this time that we are shut down wisely.”
They are also hoping to use this time to update their facility to ADA standards.
“Our building was grandfathered in, so it is not handicap accessible, even though we have a ramp coming up the back,” Stalnaker said. “If you go into our restroom, the ladies’ restroom in particular, to get to the toilet, you have to step up, so it’s not required to be handicap accessible, but we’re going to try to get it more accessible.”
The local Disabled American Veterans group has already given the VFW a donation to help cover the cost of the deductible.
“The three veteran organizations work wonderfully well together; the American Legion building is just next door to us or two doors down from us, and they allowed us to hold our January monthly meeting there because, at that time, there was no water and no heat,” Stalnaker said.
She said it was a depressing surprise to walk into a flooded VFW building on Christmas.
“I’ve worked there for four years, and it was honestly just a sadness — a surprise, but sadness — knowing we were going to have to shut down for an undetermined amount of time,” Stalnaker said. “It not only affected our bingo players, but we have a couple of bingo employees, so we have encouraged them to file for unemployment; it’s just that we’re such a tight-knit family with regulars that come and play.”
She said it was also poor timing because the VFW has been trying to reach out to the community more recently.
“We planned a dinner in February, and we were going to open it to the public,” Stalnaker said. “My husband Rex is the commander, and he’s worked really hard this year to have us more connected to the community, participating more, like when we did the Dickens Fair, and, of course, our Veterans Day Parade — just any way possible to be more visible and accessible in the public,” Stalnaker said. “Knowing we can’t do a lot for the next couple of months, it’s going to be a little bit of a setback and that’s hard.”
VFW 3663 Post Commander Rex Stalnaker said they also want to revitalize the Auxiliary and hope to grow their own membership.
“The auxiliary was dismantled a year ago and this past year, Kathy became the president, so we started the Auxiliary backup for our VFW,” Rex Stalnaker said. “They already have 50-plus members, and they’ve already become such an asset to our post.”
Donations may be mailed to VFW Post 3663 PO Box 87, Buckhannon, WV, 26201.