WELLSBORO — Members of the Wellsboro Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4907 and American Legion Post 84 made the best of this year’s COVID-19 shutdown by getting their hands a little dirty.

“About 20 volunteers helped with everything – tearing out, reconstruction, cleaning, painting – you name it,” said VFW Post Commander Levi Gardner, of renovations made to the groups’ shared building. “They have been amazing and myself and the other officers can’t thank them enough.”

Renovations to the facility, which is home to the VFW Post, VFW Auxiliary and American Legion, started in mid-June and wrapped up in early October.

“We knew we had to fix one of our coolers, so the VFW officers put together a building committee to point out other areas that needed improvements while we were in a shut-down period,” said Gardner. Some of the identified improvements were painting the main bar room and reinsulating the entire building with spray insulation that will help cut down on utility costs.

Gardner said replacing the cooler revealed further problems, which the team of volunteers addressed one by one. “Once we got into the ceiling to replace the cooler system, we found rafter damage, so we ended up installing new beams. Ultimately, we found other issues and ended up tearing out and replacing the whole bar system.”

Replacing the bar gave the group a chance to creatively recognize their members’ time in the military. Veterans brought in memorabilia that was arranged on the new bar top and sealed in epoxy.

“We got to put more of a veteran’s focus on it,” said Gardner. “A lot of thought went into displaying unit patches from all five branches of the military brought in by our members. We have ones from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. And we have ID cards, unit coins which were a big thing and in one corner, we have dog tags from the WWI, WWII eras.”

Now that the building is open again, Gardner said they’re taking proper precautions to protect against COVID, including a sign-in book for all who enter, multiple hand-sanitizing stations, required social distancing and masks when inside. In addition to its VFW and Legion members, the facility is open to those with an associate social membership, available for anyone including non-military.

“We had a curve ball thrown at us during the pandemic,” said Gardner. “We wanted to make sure our establishment not only met CDC guidelines, but we also wanted to bring the VFW and Legion back to more of an establishment for families.”

To join as an organizational or social member, go to the VFW Post 4907’s Facebook page, the website at www.vfw4907.org or stop in an ask for an application at 465 Kelsey St., Wellsboro. Right now, the facility is open Wednesday-Sunday noon-10 p.m. The kitchen closes at 8:30 p.m.

Gardner said the Post plans to hold more events when it becomes safe to do so. For updates, follow the Facebook page.

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