Local VFW post 7623 is in danger of losing its charter due to inactivity.
In a letter to acting Post Commander Ronald Miller dated Jan. 29, VFW State Commander William G. Crawford wrote that he was suspending the local post’s operations for 90 days for failure to hold meetings or to elect new officers.
The letter reads: "In accordance with section 211 of National By-Laws and the Manual of Procedure, the operations of Howard Gill Post 7623 are hereby suspended for a period of up to 90 days due to violations of the laws and usage of the organization, specifically failure to hold post meetings, and failure to submit a post election report in accordance with by-laws and procedures."
The missive continues to say that an administrative committee has been appointed to supervise post activities and ensure compliance with regulations. The committee will formulate a report, which according to the letter: "…shall contain the committee’s recommendation as to whether the suspension shall be rescinded or continued, or if the post’s charter be revoked."
Miller, who is the post’s last elected commander, told the Review that a meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. on March 14 in the History Room at the community complex at 712 South Congress Boulevard to discuss the action local members would like to take to prevent the loss of the local charter, if any. "I don’t want to make this decision for the veterans of DeKalb on my own," he said. "That is up to the members. They need to be involved."
He said that due to the facility’s state of disrepair and financial instability, the Sparta Highway property Post 7623 currently sits on will most likely have to be sold, but the charter can be saved if enough interest is shown.
"The choices we have are to fight to keep the charter and get it back up and running, in which case we will need to elect new officers who will actively participate," Miller shared. "If that happens, the property can be sold, and the money can be put into an account for the local post to use for community projects. Or, if we can’t get enough people interested to do that, they will pull the charter and sell the property. If we can’t get any local participation, the state organization will take it over and it will be done with. The funds will be disbursed however they see fit."
The post has struggled since the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC) raided the property in March 2012, before Miller took the position as post commander. The operators of the post at the time reportedly let their liquor license expire, but continued to sell libations at the club. According to officials, an investigation into the post began after anonymous complaints to the ABC were lodged, alleging wrongdoing at the location.
An undercover investigation was undertaken, and agents reported that they were able to purchase liquor from the bartender at the club. After making the purchase, the agency executed a search warrant, and agents reportedly found and seized approximately 50 bottles of liquor, four gambling machines, and envelopes containing various amounts of money, some labeled "race boards," some labeled "dice."
A bartender was issued a citation for unlawful sale of alcohol, and the post’s quartermaster was cited for storage of alcohol for sale and possession of gambling devices. Gambling machines, a television in a box marked "raffle," with the amount of the price for the raffle tickets written on the box, along with an undisclosed amount of cash, were also seized in the bust.
The club also had to surrender its beer license, which was reinstated the next month.