‘A debt-free home’Published 10:15pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Thanks to countless donations and hard work by many members of the community, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post was able to officially retire its mortgage debt on the VFW headquarters in downtown Atmore.
Members of the local VFW Post 7016 conducted a special ceremony at Monday’s monthly business meeting, held at the post’s headquarters at 206 W. Ashley St. During that ceremony, Post Commander Billy Gates led members in a ceremonial burning of the recently retired mortgage note on the post’s headquarters building.
The building is known among Atmore residents as a former meat processing plant that was owned by the Bartel family. The VFW post purchased it from its subsequent owners in 2003, and has been paying off the note since.
“The generous donations of many local businesses and individual non-veterans made this possible,” Gates said. “Post 7016 is a non-alcoholic post, which does not depend upon revenues from canteen sales as many other posts do. Consequently, we depend entirely upon our members and supporters to help us through donations and hard work at various fund-raising projects throughout the year.”
Gates said that some of the main fund-raisers that have helped the cause included the VFW’s regular fish fry events, and their sale of Conecuh dogs at the annual Williams Station Day festival. Gates expressed his appreciation that those fund-raisers can now be used to help finance other needs for the post.
Gates noted that many of the veterans who served at that time and spearheaded efforts to acquire the building have died since 2003. Two of those deceased veterans had family members present at the ceremony Monday, including Lori Diller, the granddaughter of the late John Garrard Jr., and David Swift, the grandson of the late Byard Swift. Swift passed away in February, and Garrard died in March.
“Every member has worked hard and tirelessly over the years to maintain this debt, always looking forward to the day when we would have a debt-free home,” Gates said. “That day has finally come and the burning of this mortgage note is in their honor.”
Other VFW members who were present at Monday’s burning ceremony included Mike Hanks, Frank Moxness, John Shiver, Raymond Norris, Jimmy Biggs, Gene O’Farrell, Joel Day, Leonard Stanley and Grady Slay. The late Lee Martin, a past post commander, was also recognized.