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Old fire house may soon be home for VFW

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POSTED January 22, 2014 1:16 a.m.

The Manteca VFW Jimmy Connors Post 6311 may soon have a new home.

Well, a first home actually.

Since 1946 the Manteca chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars has been a roving group serving as a social outlet and advocacy organization for those who served time in overseas combat zones.

It provided people like Phillip White a place to turn when he came back from Iraq after tours in the Marine Corps – wandering aimlessly for several years before a Korean War veteran offered a straight rudder.

And with a 5-0 vote of the Manteca City Council in closed session Tuesday night, the organization will now begin negotiations with the City of Manteca over the leasing of the city property on Center Street that at one time housed a fire station – currently used by the city’s maintenance division.

“Hopefully the negotiations will go somewhere this time around,” Mayor Willie Weatherford told the capacity crowd after reporting back from the closed session discussions.

For the last 14 months the VFW has been holding its monthly meetings, free of charge, at the American Legion hall on Yosemite Avenue. According to Post Commander Carlon Parry, the VFW Post has seen its membership spike from 60 members just over a year ago to 100 members today.

He has no doubt that given a permanent home the number of members would again double. The group would be able to further reach out and provide valuable services to veterans like White – an entirely new crop of which are returning from the theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan and find that others that shared combat experiences can relate to what they’re going through.

“Help us take care of the veterans,” Perry said. “The only way for us to do that is to have a home of our own.”

The city will now have to decide how much the property is worth and what they’re willing to lease it for. They’ve been known to step up and help veterans organizations that are cash-strapped and in need of assistance.

Several years ago when the American Legion hall was in need of a makeover, the city fronted the $38,000 bill that allowed for a complete frontside overhaul to accent the mural and additions that private donors footed on the side of the building.

Once negotiated, the matter will come back before the council for approval.

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