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Letter: Okabena Legion posts - and others - need support

By Dave Christoffer, Okabena

Sievert-Peterson American Legion Post 608 of Okabena was chartered in 1947 by a group of WWII veterans for the purpose of supporting their fellow veterans after they defended our country — a country that has developed from a vision by the founders of our country that resulted in a constitution, that if followed would sustain the United States indefinitely.

The Founders of the Okabena Post, like over 600 other posts around Minnesota, have and still want to be of service to their local communities. They have provided facilities for public as well as social gatherings.

Throughout the years, the public and social events for many posts have not provided enough support to maintain the facility entirely.

The posts provided the additional support by conducting fundraising events. Some of these additional events included “smokers” (casino-style gaming events), “feather parties” (bingo games with turkeys, ducks etc. as prizes) during the fall/winter holiday season and regular bingo occasions. The State of Minnesota decided to regulate and collect taxes on events of this type, and for many community-based organizations it has become too burdensome to continue to operate, even with volunteer help.

Food is usually a part of all fundraisers conducted by service organizations. Many of these food events are pancake meals, pork chop feeds, other food types and annual community celebrations.

The State of Minnesota, in addition to regulating the above-mentioned events, has recently in the local area put undue hardships on food preparation facilities. These requirements by the bureaucrats, with the rules they write based upon their interpretations of the statues our legislatures enact, have become extremely burdensome.

The American Legion of Okabena is a case in point. Recently, the Minnesota Department of Health has decided to require a complete renovation of its kitchen facilities. The members don’t agree with the health department’s requirements based on present facilities and number of food events conducted. The Department of Health remains committed in their enforcement requirements.

The Okabena Legion, along with the Auxiliary and its very-supported Sons of the American Legion (SAL), would like to continue the tradition initiated by the founders of the Sievert-Peterson Post 608 American Legion by providing a facility to serve our community. We are and will be seeking donations to help renovate our kitchen.

Just as important is any support we can provide veterans in need by the continued existence of the post’s operations and the membership dues paid by the members of the post, Auxiliary and SAL. Recent news reports concerning the Veterans Administration and its care of veterans is indicative of the continuing need to fight for the care of our injured veterans.

Accomplished community support over the years consists of being the major contributor for the two shelter houses and restroom facilities in the city park and donations to our local school activities, the Heron Lake Library, the summer recreation program and other non-profit groups. Donations are also given to the American Legion programs such as Boys and Girls State, school patrol, oratorical program, Luverne Veterans Home and others.

The involvement of the Okabena Legion, Auxiliary and SAL in the 4th of July celebration for 2014 will continue as it has in prior years.