Rutland’s VFW post is closed, and officials from the veterans’ organization are not saying why.
A sign on the door Thursday said the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 648 on Wales Street was closed “until further notice,” directing inquiries to Tom Keyes at a phone number with a 518 area code. Reached on Thursday afternoon, Keyes declined to comment and handed the phone to a man identifying himself as state VFW commander Russell Bivens.
“All I can tell you is, the post is on suspension for 90 days,” Bivens said. “It’s a Veterans of Foreign Wars issue and not for public dissemination.”
Post commander David Mainolfi could not be reached for comment.
Louisa Clarino, a member of the post’s auxiliary, said late Thursday afternoon that she had heard nothing from the organization and wondered what effect the suspension would have on the VFW’s statewide convention, which is scheduled to take place June 7-9. Clarino said the convention headquarters will be at the Holiday Inn, but the local post building typically figures into the event.
“Usually, the post will be open for the members from throughout the state to visit,” she said.
News of the closure also came as a surprise to Adrian Megrath, head of the Rutland chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, who maintains an office on the second floor.
“We hold our monthly meetings there,” Megrath said. “That’s where we get our mail. ... No one’s contacted us.”
The post’s Form 990s — the IRS forms for tax-exempt nonprofits — indicate financial troubles, with net revenue declining from $18,863 in 2009 to $2,719 in 2010 before nose-diving into a $45,338 loss in 2011. The return for 2012 showed some recovery but still saw the organization in the red, with a loss of $25,637.
The post’s leadership also canceled the city’s annual Loyalty Day parade, citing a lack of organizers able to pull it together while dealing with other challenges before the group. The parade did take place as usual over the weekend, as the daughter of the former longtime organizer came forward and took responsibility for the event.
Founded in 1899, the VFW accepts combat veterans from any service branch.
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