Discussion around American Legion post continues

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 7:35 PM EDT
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GREENE COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - WITN is following up on a disagreement between county leaders and an American Legion post in Greene County.

A few weeks ago, we shared that one of the legions - Post 536 - was trying to get a permanent space to call its own. We told you they wanted the county to help financially in that effort.

Tuesday morning, for the monthly county meeting, Post 536 member Robert Masters presented to commissioners in his post’s favor.

“What I would say this morning is... Look inside yourself and decide what you wanna do,” Masters, who recently joined Post 536 as its only white member, said to help them obtain their own building.

“13 years and you act like, ‘oh this has come out of the blue,’” Post 536 member Anthony Darden Sr. said in exasperation while addressing commissioners. “No, it’s not. It’s been 13 years, and you’re still saying the same thing.”

Darden is talking about the 13 years the predominantly Black Post 536 has existed.

There are other legion posts in Greene County, including Post 94, which has mostly white members. That post has its own building on the corner of North Harper Street and NW Fourth Street in Snow Hill.

Post 94 Judge Advocate Lou Cook said their members worked hard to pay for it.

“As the county commissioner stated, we bought our building. We made significant repairs to the building over time. We own it outright,” Cook explained.

Post 332 also has a dedicated meeting space in Walstonburg. A county attorney said Tuesday that they paid for it on their own as well.

Members of 536 feel the county has been partial to the other legions by giving them some financial assistance, though there seems to be a disagreement about exactly what assistance was provided.

Darden also added that, when the county planned a renovation to their operations center on 2nd Street in Snow Hill, they said they would give 536 a room to use but never followed through.

A county attorney broke down the language in the deeds for other legions during Tuesday’s meeting, clarifying that all legion members who obtained space paid for it fairly.

“I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be help, period. I’m just saying that you’ve got to work to attain a goal of ownership if that’s what your desire is,” County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bennie Heath said.

We spoke with Heath following the meeting.

“We, the county, spent a lot of time and research to identify what has happened in the past, and think that was important to get all that on the table so that everybody knows the facts,” he said.

Post 536 members said they are willing to pay their dues, though they feel the cards were dealt unfairly.

“If they help us they help us. But ya know, we gotta raise our own money, then we don’t need them to start with. We just gotta do what we gotta do,” Darden said.

Post 94 members said they are open to helping Post 536 raise the money to get their own building and added that they’ve helped them with fundraisers in the past. WITN asked Cook about the possibility of merging the two posts. He said, while they can’t speak for all of their members, it’s generally not a good rule of thumb to merge two smaller posts to form a larger one.

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