No steak feed, but VFW members will be busy during Ag Days

The Spring Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars hall is nearing completion, with the kitchen renovation and finishing work to be done. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE VFW Commander Steve O'Connor points out the work to be done on the south wall of the VFW office building, as that wall was left exposed by the fire that took down Johnny Ringo's. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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The Spring Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars have a stake in the community, but this year, no steak in the community.

“For Ag Days, we’ll do our usual Ag Days events, except we don’t think at this stage, the hall is finished enough to furnish it properly, so the Sunday steak feed that the VFW usually does will not be done this year.  We worked to get it done so that we could have the steak feed, but we’re sorry that we couldn’t.  So come see us in 2019,” stated Spring Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Commander Steve O’Connor, standing back to survey the ongoing renovation of the VFW hall to restore it following the fire next door that decimated the Johnny Ringo’s building. 

The VFW will still do the flag retirement ceremony on Friday of Ag Days at 8 p.m. at the Fire Hall and follow immediately with the POW and MIA candlelight vigil at the veterans’ memorial at the Wilder church museum. The vigil is earlier than in the past when it was scheduled an hour after the flag retirement, which left quite a gap in events. The VFW will also have a unit in the parade on Saturday.

However, the VFW and its auxiliary will resume some activities, possibly this fall, at the renovated hall.  O’Connor thinks it will open again in September or October.

“One of the things the post and auxiliary want to have is an open house with beverages and snacks, something where the community can come in and look around, and they don’t have to donate anything -- this one’s on us – and they can see what their efforts have done,” he said.

The VFW is also planning a “meet the candidates” forum or two, but it is booking the Community Center for that because the last forum two years ago had standing room only. 

“It was apparently important,” said O’Connor. 

This time, there’s a race for sheriff and auditor-treasurer at the county level and four people running for two City Council seats. There may also be multiple Kingsland School Board seats as filing is underway for those positions.

“We need to do something to get the candidates out so that people in Spring Valley and the surrounding area can evaluate them and do their best pick,” he said.

In the meantime, work continues to make the smoke-damaged hall a place to gather. The hall now has two restrooms – a men’s and a ladies’ room each – and will have LED lighting, a new kitchen, new flooring throughout, steel siding to be installed on the south wall that used to be shared with Johnny Ringo’s, and roofing to be completed so that the third apartment, located over the VFW office building on the very south end, can be occupied. 

“It seemed like it took forever to start this project,” he said, but progress is rapid now. The steel on the south wall, which is the most visible portion to the public, will be reddish-brown to blend with the bricks. The VFW is using local people for the work.

The VFW’s members are ever-grateful for the support that the community has shown throughout the renovation and restoration project. 

“We still think we’re going to have enough money to pull this off.  This community and the surrounding communities were so good to us with fundraisers.  We stopped fundraising because we didn’t want to take money from the community that we didn’t need…to raise a bunch of money and have $40,000 left over.  That isn’t right.  We wanted to do our restoration and be able to pay for it, but not take from the community,” said O’Connor. “I think we’ve gotten pretty close – two apartments are rented and we’ve got the other done – and when the last nail is in and the last drop of paint dries, I think we can write the checks and be right there.  We’re not used to asking for help – we’re usually the ones who ask, ‘What do you need?’” 

And so, with Ag Days approaching, steak or no steak, the VFW and the auxiliary will show that they’ve definitely appreciated that their community understands the stake they’ve got in neighborliness and service. Look for the upstanding men and women serving at the flag retirement ceremony at 8 p.m. at the Spring Valley Fire Hall on Friday, Aug. 17, and the very same people marching in the grand parade the next day.