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A place of their own

American Legion Post 796 finds new home in Diamond

The Coal City American Legion Post 796 will begin to transform the former water reclamation plant building at 1752 Division St. into their new home.
The Coal City American Legion Post 796 will begin to transform the former water reclamation plant building at 1752 Division St. into their new home.

DIAMOND — A small but growing American Legion Post will soon have a space of their own in Diamond.

Once it obtains insurance, the Coal City American Legion Post 796 will begin to transform the former water reclamation plant building at 1752 Division Street to use as their post.

Glenn Gavril, the post's commander, said previously the group has been meeting in the Felix Township maintenance building on White Tie Road since the post re-opened in 2004.

While the group is grateful for the chance to use the facility, Gavril said having a more permanent home will be even better.

"It's a great place to meet, but it's kind of out of sight, out of mind and it's not our own," he said. "We can't store equipment there, so all of us have our garages full of legion flags and boxes."

In its quest for a new home, Gavril said the group approached community leaders in Coal City, Carbon Hill and Diamond and waited for something to come on the market. Then, the former water building became available when Diamond reworked their water system.

The tiny building is situated next to the water tower, village hall and a park. While the village will maintain a control room for some of their water infrastructure, the majority of the building will be leased to the American Legion.

Naturally, the group is thrilled about the chance to move in.

"The location is prime for us because it's right on (Illinois) 113," Gavril said. "It'll give people driving up and down the main street a visual (representation) of a veteran's organization in their community."

He said the group, which has has 30 members, about 15 people in its Sons of the American Legion group and 12 in the auxiliary group, serves Coal City, Diamond, Carbon Hill and Goose Lake. It is working to get the word about their post to the community through community events, like Octoberfest and Carbon Hill Homecoming.

"A lot of people didn't even know we existed in the community," said Cosmo DiBari, public service officer for the post and Braidwood resident.

While the space is small — Gavril said it's about 24 feet by 24 feet — it's still a central location that can be a spot for veterans to drop by to pick up paperwork and information and to store equipment.

The group recently has kicked off a campaign to help raise funds for the new space. Gavril said there is probably about $10,000 worth of work to be done before they can inhabit the space.

"We have to take down all the sidings, the pipe work, everything and actually just start from scratch," he said. 

The post has recently begun circulating letters in attempts to raise the funds for the work and materials that will be needed. People interested in making monetary donations may send checks to the Coal City American Legion Post 796, P.O. Box 282, Coal City, Illinois, 60416, attention finance officer. Anyone with an interest in providing materials or help with the construction, or would otherwise volunteer can call Gavril at (815) 634-0366.

While the post won't be big enough to support large events, like fish fries or breakfasts, Gavril said its proximity to the park will allow it to hold outside events, like barbecues. Plus, he said having a space will allow the group to provide better support to area veterans.

"We're really excited," he said. "We can do a lot more of the different programs that we would like to do, and people will have a lot more access to us ... This is just great news for everybody."

Tom Cave, senior vice commander for the post, agreed.

"There's nothing like having your own place," he said.

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