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July 31, 2014

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Despite being announced on short notice, Tuesday’s Blowing Rock Town Council’s special meeting was packed with citizens concerned about the future of the American Legion Hall. JEFF EASON PHOTO

Originally published: 2013-09-20 13:19:50
Last modified: 2013-09-20 13:20:34

Legion building to be updated

Blowing Rock officials voted 4-1 Tuesday afternoon to go forward with plans to renovate the Blowing Rock American Legion Hall on Wallingford Street.

The approval came during a special public meeting of the Blowing Rock Town Council.

The improvements to the building include work on the roof and exterior, moving the upper floor bathrooms to the front of the building and making them handicapped accessible, removing a wall on the upper floor and replacing it with a folding partition, building an outdoor deck overlooking Broyhill Lake and updating the building’s heating and electrical systems.

Currently, the building is used by the American Legion, Boy Scout Troop 101, the Blowing Rock Historical Society, Blowing Rock Parks and Recreation, the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of Blowing Rock and other organizations.

After the renovations, the building will also be available for private groups to rent for receptions, reunions and special events.

Financing for the renovations include $142,500 from the town’s 2013-2014 budget, $142,500 from a matching grant from the state  and $80,205 from other sources.

Architect David Moses told the town council that he estimates that the total cost for the renovations will be $367,010.

With the approval of the renovation plan, the town will now accept bids from construction companies for the work.

The last regularly scheduled event in the building for 2013 is the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce’s Art in the Park on Saturday, Oct. 5. If a construction bid has been accepted, renovations on the building will begin after that and could be finished by the spring of 2014.

Currently, the downstairs of the building is being renovated by Boy Scout Troop 101 as part of its Eagle Scout projects program.

During the meeting, Moses recommended putting a performance bond on the renovation project, but some officials felt that it would limit the number of construction companies that would bid on the project. A performance bond acts as insurance in case the company with the winning bid goes out of business for one reason or another during the construction process.

In the American Legion Hall renovation project, Moses estimated that a performance bond would cost the town between $6,000 and $9,000.

Right before the council voted to approve the project, Councilman Dan Phillips expressed concern that the money would be better spent elsewhere and cited the town’s aging water and sewer system and two roads that are in need of repair due to heavy rains this summer.

“This is a want, not a need,” said Phillips about the American Legion Hall renovation project. “We have 600 homes that could be re-piped for water for this amount of money. And we have two roads that are falling off the mountain.”

The council also discussed new changes to the state’s conceal and carry handgun laws that will go in effect on Oct. 1. It advised town manager Scott Fogleman and town attorney Allen Mosely to study the new laws to see if town gun ordinances comply with the new state laws.

“The shooting this week at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., is an example of what can happen in a gun-free, crime-friendly zone,” Wayne Green said. “The mentally ill and criminals are not going to obey your ordinances.”

For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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