American Legion to merge with VFW after pool snafu — Thunder Cheer on the sideline
August 11, 2016
The pool at the Shadow Mountain Clubhouse is full for the first time in seven years — but not with water.
After being filled with gravel on last Friday, a patch of cement is the only sign of the old indoor pool's existence. However, the county commissioners never approved the modification and now a local cheer group may be left in the lurch.
"This was done without our knowledge even," said Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe at the Tuesday morning commissioners meeting.
After its rent at Centennial Mall increased, Moffat County Thunder Cheer was searching for a new training facility and began discussing filling in the pool and using the building with American Legion Post 62.
American Legion Post 62 currently leases the clubhouse from Moffat County for $10 a month in addition to covering the utility bill and the facility's insurance.
According to the Legion's lease agreement with the county, "(The) tenant shall not make any alterations to the premises without the prior written consent of the landlord."
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But American Legion Post 62 Adjutant Brian Baxter, who manages the property, told the county commissioners he gave Thunder Cheer permission to proceed with the project because he was on a tight timeline and could not get in touch with the commissioners.
"I made a mistake," he said. "That's all I can say."
Thinking they were in the clear, volunteers from Moffat County Thunder Cheer began the work of filling in the pool.
Head coach Valerie Davis said the project cost between $15,000 and $20,000, counting donated time and materials. Actual cash spent was estimated at around $2,000.
Davis said the cheer team had been paying $600 a month at the mall but it lost its co-leaser and the landlord was raising rent, making them responsible for $2,200 a month.
Eric Tegl, manager of the mall building and its spaces, said he would not confirm the rent increase.
"All I do is the property management," he said.
Thunder Cheer's plans to move into the clubhouse and pay $600 a month to the Legion were complicated by the Legion's recent decision to combine locations with the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post.
Wednesday evening, Legion Post 62 spent two hours going over a lease agreement with VFW Post 4265 before voting to approve it and move the Legion to 419 E. Victory Way, which will be known as Veterans Hall.
At a meeting with the Legion and Thunder Cheer on Wednesday, Grobe asked Baxter why he was not upfront with the cheer group about potentially leaving the clubhouse.
"At that time the merger was off," Baxter said.
Former Legion Commander Ed Wilkinson said the merger was in progress when everything took place but wasn't widely publicized because it was not a sure thing.
"We did not want to say anything until we had our ducks in a row," he said.
Now, with the Legion leaving the building, the county commissioners will try to find a way to keep Thunder Cheer from losing all the money and effort it put into modifying the building for its use.
"The way this should come down is to make sure you get your season in," said Grobe. "But we're looking at a lot of different things so we'll keep you posted."
Baxter said he takes responsibility for the mix-up, but he believes the clubhouse is an important community resource that needs to be kept available.
"This wasn't the way to go about that, Brian," Grobe responded.
VFW Quartermaster Mark Wick said he did not approve of the way Baxter handled the situation, as well.
"I think he overstepped his bounds," he said.
Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe said there was no need to put Baxter on trial at the commissioners meeting but rebutted that he and his fellow commissioners are not hard to reach.
"We're available 24 hours a day," he said. "Our phone numbers are public, gladly call."
Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.