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Ogdensburg VFW vows to remain open

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OGDENSBURG — Ogdensburg Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2936 announced Thursday that it will remain open under new leadership and in a new facility.

The post’s new commander, Scott A. Compo, has taken the reins of the post following its shutdown last October.

“I have been associated with the VFW since I was a child,” Mr. Compo said. “My father was a past commander and my mother was a past president of the women’s auxiliary. Then I became a member myself. It’s very near to my heart and I couldn’t see losing the post or the charter and having all that hard work go to waste.”

The post was shut down after Commander Larry Latimer, unable to pay the post’s bills, turned over the building’s keys to the state VFW.

The post’s charter was in jeopardy unless remaining members elected 10 and appointed two new officers.

“I decided then and there that I would take over as the post commander,” Mr. Compo said. “We got a bunch of guys and filled the officer positions.”

Meanwhile, the post has been the subject of a state investigation over the sale of its bell jar tickets. The investigation is ongoing, Gaming Commission spokesman Lee Park said.

“The investigation is in the final stages — basically done,” Mr. Compo said. “There are some final negotiations to be had, but we know what we owe. We have a plan on paying what we owe.”

The post owes upward of $50,000 to the state, vendors and utilities, Mr. Compo said.

The 525 Caroline St. building’s electricity and gas were turned off and its plumbing was drained in February.

“In our current building, we were looking at a $700 to $1,000 monthly in electricity bills in the wintertime and a $700-a-month gas bill,” Mr. Compo said. He said a lack of membership and dwindling interest have caused the post’s inability to pay its bills.

“Back when we bought the building in the ’50s, the VFW post had over 700 members,” he said. “Right now, the interest in the VFW isn’t very big to today’s veterans. Today, we have about 180 members. We’re hoping to change that, but we have to get back on our feet first.”

On May 17, post members voted to sell the building in favor of purchasing a smaller facility.

“We can’t afford to keep the building, unfortunately,” Mr. Compo said.

“We couldn’t afford to stay in that building for years. We’ve done our best to stay there, but we’re looking to get out of that big building to something smaller that we can maintain.”

A buyer has expressed interest in purchasing the building, Mr. Compo said.

The post is waiting for approval from the state VFW before it can go through with the sale.

“Once we get permission to sell, our next step is to keep everything we need to start a new post,” he said. “And everything else, we’ll hold an auction for to try to raise extra funds for our new building. Money from the sale of the old building will help pay off our debts.”

Mr. Compo said the post does not yet have any leads on a new building.

“We’re still working on that,” he said. “We haven’t found a place yet. This whole deal is still in the works.”

The post still will operate a canteen in its next home. “We’ll have less overhead and less building to heat, less maintenance,” Mr. Compo said.

The post continues to hold regular meetings once a month.

“The ladies and men’s auxiliaries are still together,” Mr. Compo said.

“We have a lot of support through the auxiliaries and we’re hoping to make a go of it in the future. Everything depends on the state approval of that sale. But I spoke with the district commander ... and he said everything is looking good.”

Mr. Compo said the post has stopped asking for donations until it receives sale approval from state VFW officials.

“We know we received a lot of donations and help from the public, and we appreciate everyone’s help,” Mr. Compo said.

“The VFW is not going anywhere and we’re not closing down. We’re simply just relocating. We will have a club in the future; where that is remains to be determined, but we will have a club. We want everyone to know we’re still here, and we’re not gone.”

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