13 June 2016
A BIT OF HISTORY:
“On June 5, 1930, a post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars was formed in Front Royal, VA. A delegation of officers and members from the Harrisonburg Post of the VFW assembled for the occasion. The new Post was instituted by Russell L. Stultz, Department Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
The Front Royal Post was named Col. Samuel R. Millar Post No. 1860, in honor of this distinguished veteran and civic leader. The Harrison News Record paid this tribute on that date, “No greater thing can be established as a memorial to anyone than this organization of men who have served the Stars and stripes in foreign fields, and no greater character could have been found to be the guiding star of an organization than that of Colonel Samuel R. Millar.”
A proud and vibrant establishment in the 50’s through the 90’s, our Front Royal Post 1860 waned in the years following those glory years. Seemly corresponding with the passing of aging membership, our esteemed WW II, Korea and Vietnam members began meeting father times’ ailments, mother natures’ limitations and the heard the final beckoning from our Father above.
The post had struggled financially. Limited funds significantly restricted our countermeasures. However, the membership fought back by undertaking charitable BINGO, hosting Post dinners and bringing in Karaoke. Along with our members, the Post staff sacrificed greatly to keep the doors open. Our operations were easing as funds stabilized and things finally began to look a little brighter. And, then it happened…
The Post fire last July was total devastation for Warren County’s only Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. Since the cause is still under investigation, additional details are not available at this time. However, we want to once again thank those Law enforcement officers, Fire Company’s and Rescue crews who fought so valiantly to save our post. Though the building was deemed a total loss, there were no injuries as at result of the fire.
AFTER THE FIRE:
In late September 2015, we signed an agreement with American Dream Restoration (ADR). Our agreement leveraged ADR insurance recovery expertise to maximize the pay out on our policy. It also included an option to utilize ADR resources for new construction. ADR worked diligently on our behalf and we are very grateful for their efforts. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t much to work with insurance wise.
In December 2015, our claim was settled and it became very clear our level of insurance coverage was significantly beneath the amount of damages and the projected cost to demolish and reconstruct the post.
In late January 2016, the post sought and received clarification and guidance from town and county officials regarding our desire for reconstruction. The post current location was determined to reside in the flood plain and as such, rebuilding requirements forced us to seriously consider all options.
In mid February 16, Post membership voted to form a committee focused on restoration. The Committee is chartered with establishing design criteria, conducting market surveys, determining best construction options, developing schedules, outlining costs and reporting results back to Post officers and our membership.
The committee worked quickly to resolve the reconstruction challenges and identified a path forward. Market survey’s and research identified a potential solution within our funding levels. Our solution: a steel building verses more costly brick and mortar solutions. Not to mention, the building would be built upon an elevated platform to exceed flood plain requirements and steel gives us a chance.
By the end of February 16, the post signed an agreement with General Steel out of Colorado for “pre-construction design services” (included space plan, 3-D color renderings and a detailed cost analysis) for a new building. We have completed our very modest space plan. We expect our rendering to finalize no later than 17 Jun 16 with the cost analysis to follow shortly after.
We have designed a space plan requiring a modest, single story 5,000 square foot steel building, elevated 10-12 feet above historical flood plain levels. Key post features are: An under structure parking area, an elevator to transport from ground to upper platform, a small outdoor patio area, a rental hall, a vets club, kitchen, one office and appropriate men’s and ladies facilities.
The cost analysis will confirm our interior space plan and exterior rendering are fiscally viable. If the analysis returns unfavorably, we still have a few options left (i.e. reduce building size, limit amenities, etc.) to reduce costs. We will share the results once received. Updates to our plans and renderings will be provided when available.
We project demolition, building purchase and its construction will likely absorb existing funds leaving us to fund raise to complete the job (refurnishing, restocking and any construction shortfalls). With the design work well underway, the post had to address the damaged building to eliminate the safety issues and to prepare for reconstruction.
On Tuesday, 07 Jun 16, Front Royal VFW Post 1860 officially began our climb back, moving dirt if you will! In preparation for the razing of the post, supply lines for water, sewer and electrical services from the town/county were rerouted, capped or temporarily suspended. Water and sewer were specifically kept available to ensure continued use of our “down range” pavilion and shower/bathroom facilities
The heavy work began on Thursday, the 9th and is expected to continue through early this week. But, the first burnt timbers of the Post were finally felled! The Poe Construction crew brought heavy machines and a very talented crew, and they are making tremendous progress.
Once the structure was pushed and maneuvered inward, the Poe team launched their “dipping out” of debris! While Post members went to great lengths to recover official veteran records, era memorabilia and other salvageable items, the damaged facility was entirely too dangerous and prevented most recovery efforts. However, we are happy to report we have found and recovered additional treasured items. Our sincere thanks go out to the Poe crew for halting operations periodically to help us out. So, what happens next?
Once the debris is completely removed, the task of backfilling the basement structure and leveling the site will begin. We are working with closely with ESSROC in Front Royal to purchase satisfactory fill material. Due to our large sized basement, estimates of up to 500 tons of material may be required to complete the job. The fill material must be compacted every several feet. We are working compaction details and we are hopeful Poe Construction and the Post can reach an agreement to complete the work.
Not in order, far too many to list and those wishing to remain anonymous, we are so very grateful for the all the support! Our VFW family, friends, local vendors, area businesses, contributors to our “gofundme”, the Northern Virginia Daily, the Town of Front Royal, Warren County, the Virginia Freedom Festival (2-3 July 16, Warren County Fair Grounds)
After stumbling out of the gate, we have worked hard and we finally recovered our stride. One cannot overstate the importance of our upcoming cost analysis. The results will corroborate our plans, will confirm our funding level and will allow us to “adjust fire” if we can. Our options are limited, but not our fight! To be certain, there is no damn “Easy Button” to be had, and to tell the truth…we would not use it anyway. Our roughest challenges are near. We are “locked and loaded”, “ready to engage” and “we won’t give up”! Hell, we had an 81 year old vet riding “the bucket” to get things done.
Thanks for checking in and all of your support!
May God bless you and yours!