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HALL UPGRADE: $700,000+
Legion post seeking help with project

When the remodeling project was launched two years ago, the tab was pegged at just $400,000. Today, it’s creeping close to $1 million — $700,000 plus to be exact.

That’s how much the iconic American Legion Hall in downtown Manteca needs right now to get the long-needed renovation project completed. The work is proceeding as money becomes available.

At least, one major improvement has been completed. That’s the handicap-accessible ramp installed on the west side of the building leading to the side entrance, making the building compliant to the American Disabilities Act. But that’s just the tip of the construction iceberg. A blueprint of the rest of the work that needs to be done visually illustrates the long road ahead for this historic building on East Yosemite Avenue which is sandwiched between a bank and the PG&E building. Some of the major structural corrections awaiting much needed finances to get these started include relocating the kitchen area, reconfiguring and improving the restrooms, and making the assembly room more spacious, from its current 1,304-square-foot area to a little more than 1,600 square feet.

The assembly room is the heart of the hall. It’s where the members of the American Legion Post 249 hold their dinner events, and where various community nonprofit organizations hold similar functions at different times of the year. Other groups hold other social events at this location, too.

The small existing kitchen located to the right side of the foyer when you come into the building from the Yosemite Avenue entrance will be turned into a beverage bar, with the larger permanent kitchen to be situated in the back of the assembly room. On the other side of the narrow foyer is the office which will stay as is.

To be incorporated in the kitchen area for convenience will be the pantry and storage room. The gender-specific restrooms are on the opposite side of the kitchen area with a corridor in between. Both spacious restrooms will be handicap-accessible.

“We’ll knock the wall out and extend (the building) 30 feet,” said American Legion member Robert Gonzales referring to the south end of the assembly room that is currently occupied by a low stage bookended by a storage and the restrooms on either side.

“We got $40,000 when we started (the fundraising) two years ago. Some of that were used to build the ramp and handicap door a year and a half ago,” Gonzales said.

“The basement will go away because of the 30-foot extension,” explained member Lindy Melton. He is referring to the storage area beneath the building’s south end.

All donations to the renovation project are tax deductible, Gonzales said. The American Legion Hall, whose mission is “Veterans serving veterans,” is the home of the McFall-Grisham Post 249 which is currently headed by Commander Jeff Aksland of Manteca’s Aksland Realty.

The hall, which does not utilize paid staff and relies on help such as cleanup from volunteers, derives part of its financial support from rent collected from various local organizations that use it for dinner fundraisers and other social and community events. For information about renting the facility, call (209) 823-4133.

For more information about donating to the renovation project, call John Aguilar at (209) 679-1818