State VFW closes Lititz Springs post for 90 days

By on December 17, 2014

Closing during holiday season could impact the group’s generous charitable donations within the local community

The state department of Veterans of Foreign Wars last week temporarily shut down Lititz Springs VFW Post 1463.

What’s not known is why.side wall VFW 1463

Officers and members of VFW 1463 referred questions to Pennsylvania VFW headquarters in Harrisburg, which on Dec. 11 closed the club for 90 days.

John Getz, Pennsylvania VFW Quartermaster, confirmed on Monday that the club has been closed but refused to comment beyond that “it is an internal VFW matter.” Getz said he advised the National VFW Headquarters of the closure.

In a letter dated Dec. 8, Getz informed the club that an administrative committee would carry out the business affairs of VFW 1463 during the suspension according to VFW national bylaws.

Lititz Police confirmed it provided support for the state VFW personnel that served notice that the club would be closed for 90 days.

Sources have said off the record that patrons in the club were told to immediately leave, the locks were changed, and that the suspension notice followed a contentious club meeting (a week before) that may have gotten physical.

Seven club members and officers contacted about the incident referred a reporter’s questions to the state VFW headquarters. The private club,  located at 14 N. Spruce St., has been torn recently by sparing factions — including current officers — that differ on a smoking policy at the club.

Voting on policy issues by club members in the last several months has vacillated between banning smoking and allowing it.

Most recently, there was a short-lived smoking ban beginning Oct. 1 at VFW 1463 — pushed by Post Commander Rich Mellott — that lasted only about six weeks. Prior to that vote the club had allowed smoking since its original charter in 1932.

Senior Vice-Commander Dustin Bailey, who manages the day-to-day operations of the club, said the social members and many veterans favored smoking at the club. Bailey was present when club members voted 17-8 to lift the smoking ban on Nov. 14.

The vote to reinstate smoking angered some members including Bill Thomas, VFW 1463 Quartermaster, who stepped down from his post. There have also been changes recently to top leadership positions.

Thomas, Bailey, and Mellott all refused to comment this week and referred questions to Getz, who is also a member of Cocalico Valley Post VFW 3376 in Ephrata.

Getz would not elaborate but answered direct questions that the club’s 90-day suspension was not related to the open quartermaster position, the smoking policy, or gambling regulations.

Like most VFW posts in Pennsylvania, Lititz Springs 1463 relies heavily on gambling revenue —from its Thursday night bingo and pull-off tickets sold at the bar — to fund its many charitable donations. stats photo

It’s not clear how the closure during the busy holiday season may affect donations made by VFW 1463’s and its Ladies Auxiliary.

That long list of club benefactors include Pennsylvania Wounded Warrior Program, scouting programs,  Lititz Community Chest and Food Bank; Lititz Fire Company No. 1; Lititz Library; Lititz Police Department; the Lititz recCenter; educational scholarships, and many more.

VFW 1463’s charitable contributions in 2013 was $107,317, according to 2013 tax returns. That was bolstered through  total gross gaming revenue  of  $300,335, including $22,763 from bingo and $277,572 from pull-offs, instant bingo and progressive bingo — minus prizes the post’s net gaming revenue was $226,861.

In 2012, the post’s contributions totaled $152,056, with net gaming revenue of $241,407 – including $20,532 from traditional bingo and $220,875 from pull-offs, instant bingo and progressive bingo.

During the suspension, VFW 1463 is restricted from holding meetings except for the sole purpose of “discussion of the causes, effects of the removal of the penalty.”

The club’s annual Children’s Christmas Party was relocated on Saturday to Lititz Fire Company No. 1.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455

 

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