American Legion McFall-Grisham Post No. 249 is slowly but surely becoming ADA compliant.
The aging building at 220 E. Yosemite Ave. in Manteca has been around since 1929. Renovation plans are in the work, calling for remodeling the inside to increase the capacity while making the restrooms and kitchen accessible to physically disabled folks.
“Everything will be at the same level of the main floor,” said American Legion member Art Smith on Wednesday.
The building with plenty of Manteca history – Rocky Wilson, for example, remembered years ago when it served as a temporary school house – was a gift to the local American Legion from the Mikesell family.
“We’d like to keep the building looking like the original,” Wilson said.
There’s a plan of the remodel posted on the wall inside the building.
The staging area along with raised restrooms – the men and women facilities consists of stairs sitting at the same level as the stage – and another set of stairs leading down to the kitchen (this is one used by the American Legion) would be torn down, filled, and rebuilt with the kitchen and the ADA -compliant restrooms being even with the current floor level.
In the process, the indoor capacity would increase, from 110 to 160, according to longtime member George Terry.
“That’s 50 more seats for dining,” he said.
More importantly, the hall would continue to benefit the community. The American Legion rents out to the public for wedding receptions and other big gatherings.
Post 249 has conducted various fundraisers to help make this dream come true, including this Saturday’s Hamburger Dinner / Car Show / Motorcycle Drawing at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane beginning at 3 p.m.
Perhaps a bigger step for the local American Legion would be the changing of the non-profit status in order to qualify for sizeable donations from the likes of the City of Manteca, for example, by Jan. 1. Smith and others indicated the efforts on that are currently in the works.
Terry, meanwhile, received a ballpark estimate on the plans at $400,000. “I would like to see it done in my lifetime,” he said.
Achieving that goal is still a pipe dream at this point considering that the American Legion spent the past year and a half raising $17,000 to make possible the ADA-compliant ramp located at the side of the hall.
Included was a generous $500 check from an anonymous donor.
“The ramp is still a work in progress,” said Jack White, who led the efforts of this project.
Members of the post chipped in their time and resources over the course of the past five months or so in doing the bulk of the work.
The ramp itself was completed six week ago. Yet lights are still needed – the necessary permits, railing, door and materials for the ramp were covered in the cost.
In addition, the American Legion has been a major contributor towards the Veterans Mural Project honoring those who fought in the five different wars on Yosemite Avenue and Main Street.
“We’re also supportive of the ‘Fill the Helmet’ fundraiser sponsored by the Manteca Mural Society,” said Legion member Ron Cruz.
Post 249 is currently seeking new members and is open to anyone who served in the armed forces with an honorable discharge.
The hall is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, call Post 249 at 209.823.4133 or Art Smith at 209.239.1340.