Repairs will force temporary closure of Aberdeen VFW

The Aberdeen VFW building on Heron Street is closing temporarily because of safety issues in the ceiling and rafters in the post’s “great hall.”

“I must apologize to the public for this very short notice, but the Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars will close the building after normal operations on Sunday, May 20,” said VFW Post Commander Jim Daly. We have been attempting to resolve some ceiling and rafter damage issues, but now must close out of safety concerns.”

Daly said the post has already talked with engineers and contractors about fixing the building. Though it’s too early for cost estimates, let alone a time table for reopening, members are hoping to reopen by next fall or winter, he said.

This decision to close was unanimous at a special joint meeting of the Post and the Auxiliary members Tuesday evening.

A little more than two years ago, members and employees of the post began to notice cracks in the ceiling in the “great hall” where the post hosts public dinners, events, and twice weekly bingo. After some investigation, it was found that some of the rafters had split and the toe-nail joints had begun to pull apart. It was believed that the damage was the result of the December 2007 wind storm, so an insurance claim was submitted.

After some initial research, the insurance company sent a “forensic engineer” to evaluate the 1908 building that once housed the Bijou Theater. The VFW converted the building after the 1999 fire that destroyed their building, which stood in the current parking lot next to the Kaufman Scroggs Home Furnishings store. The engineer determined that much of the damage had years of age and that some modifications had been made over the years that compromised the building’s structure. The insurance claim was denied.

Without insurance money, officers of the Post and the Auxiliary have been trying to figure out how to make the repairs, Daly said. Longtime Post Quartermaster, Terry Holderman, says: “We have been watching the ceiling cracks spread and grow, with mounting safety concerns. It is now time to close, so that no one gets hurt.”

The 40 et 8 organization on Simpson Avenue in Aberdeen has agreed to allow the Post and Auxiliary to hold their meetings on the first Tuesday of the month in their meeting room. The Ladies Auxiliary will meet at 6:30 p.m. and the Post membership will meet at 7:30 p.m. following the Auxiliary. The Aberdeen Eagles have agreed to host the Aberdeen VFW Bingo games on Monday and Wednesday evenings.

The Post’s Service Officer will continue to meet with veterans and their family members at the state WorkSource office on Heron Street when he returns from a medical absence, and the VA Medical Services Van will continue to visit Aberdeen Wednesday through Friday during the second week of the month, for the remainder of the year.

“Most post functions will continue,” says Commander Daly. “We are just sorry that we must discontinue our lounge and dinner operations.”

Daly said, “We have had several local contractors, a local architect, and an engineer in to look at the project, but have not yet developed a complete repair plan. We hope that in the next couple of weeks we can get a structural engineer to develop the plans we need to get some estimates, get funding, and get the repair work under way. We would like to be back in operation in the fall.”

“We have been working with Anchor Bank to develop the necessary financing. The public may even make donations in support of the Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars Building Program, at any branch of Anchor Bank,” says Quartermaster Holderman.

Ladies Auxiliary President, Nell Todd, says: “We will find it difficult to accomplish our community service projects for veterans, their families, and the kids of Grays Harbor without a building.”