Lt. Gov. Ruther­ford visit Caro­line Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 193

Times-Record - - NEWS - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record.com

DEN­TON — Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford and Mary­land De­part­ment of Veter­ans Af­fairs Sec­re­tary Ge­orge Owings on Tues­day, July 17, vis­ited Man­nie Scott Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 193 to dis­cuss how the state can help mem­bers fund much­needed re­pairs to the build­ing.

“This is the kick­off to renovating our home here,” said Tarence Bai­ley, sec­ond vice com­man­der of the post.

Sit­u­ated on four acres near state Route 404, be­tween Den­ton and Hills­boro, the post is his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant, be­ing the only AfricanAmer­i­can post in the county, Bai­ley said.

Mem­bers hope a us­able build­ing will bring in in­come, from event rentals, and more mem­bers, as the post’s ranks have dwin­dled over the years from more than 100 mem­bers to its cur­rent ros­ter of 35.

“We still hold our monthly meet­ings here,” Bai­ley said. “But we don’t let any­one else brave the build­ing. Just us.”

Mem­bers led Ruther­ford on a tour of the build­ing, which be­gan life as a feed mill in Mary­del be­fore it was moved to its cur­rent site in 1946, the same year Post 193 was char­tered.

In­side, a hand­ful of vinyl booths and a bar line the walls, sur­round­ing a check­ered linoleum floor. A stage sits on one end, the bath­rooms and kitchens on the other. Sev­eral plaques and flags, awarded to the post for grow­ing mem­ber­ship, adorn the walls, though the most re­cent is from 2005.

Mem­bers said the build­ing needs to be ex­panded and its bath­rooms and kitchen up­dated. It needs a com­plete new roof. Mold has to be re­moved.

Rene Swaf­ford, the post’s judge ad­vo­cate, said though the build­ing has to be “taken down to its shell,” she hopes the bar will be saved and re­in­stalled in the ren­o­va­tion.

“Our mem­bers built it,” Swaf­ford said.

Bai­ley said the post has an es­ti­mate on the cost, but he wor­ries it is low.

Ruther­ford said there might be grants avail­able to help pay for the ren­o­va­tion, but un­for­tu­nately, the cur­rent fis­cal year just be­gan July 1, mean­ing those grants will not be awarded again un­til next year.

Another op­tion would be a bond bill, Owings said, but those re­quire match­ing funds.

Bai­ley said the post is kick­ing off a fundrais­ing drive, which could pos­si­bly bring in those needed match­ing funds.

He said the post is also in­creas­ing its mem­ber­ship re­cruit­ment ef­forts, reach­ing out to younger veter­ans re­turn­ing to the county. He said 10 new mem­bers are set to join the post in Au­gust.

Owings said veter­ans’ or­ga­ni­za­tions like Amer­i­can Le­gion and VFW posts around the coun­try are fac­ing the same mem­ber­ship prob­lems.

“Mem­bers are dy­ing off, and the younger gen­er­a­tion is just not join­ing,” he said.

The aim is to have the build­ing open and avail­able for rent by the spring, Bai­ley said.

Rental fees and mem­ber­ship dues will sup­port the post’s mis­sion of giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity, Bai­ley said.

“We’re sup­posed to help the com­mu­nity, but right now we can’t even help our­selves,” he said.

Bai­ley also is a great-great­great-great-great-grand­son of Perry Bai­ley, Fred­er­ick Douglass’s older brother.

The Bai­ley-Douglass fam­ily has held a fam­ily reunion at the post ev­ery year since 1983, said Roger Groce, the fam­ily’s elder. But the last two years, the event has had to be held on the lawn sur­round­ing the build­ing, rather than in the build­ing.

“This is a nice spot,” Groce said. “I’d like to see it re­turned to what it was.”

PHOTO BY ABBY AN­DREWS

Left to right, Lt. Gov. Ruther­ford Boyd, Mary­land De­part­ment of Veter­ans Af­fairs Sec­re­tary Ge­orge Owings, De­part­ment of Veter­ans Af­fairs Area Su­per­vi­sor Janet Thomas, Char­lotte Hall Veter­ans Home Direc­tor Sharon Mur­phy and Man­nie Scott Amer­i­can Le­gion...

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