BAINBRIDGE — A chain of events has resulted in American Legion Post 502 in Bainbridge to, at least for the time being, cease operations, officials say.
Larry Carroll, the post’s commander, has told The Albany Herald that the state American Legion office has signed off on its district commander’s decision to suspend the post from operations — and has done so without saying why.
Arthur Powell, the District 2 commander for Georgia American Legion, said there were issues that had arisen with how the post was being operated and no cooperation was received from officers there in terms of finding a way to resolve these problems.
“We couldn’t schedule a time to sit down and discuss these issues,” he said. “Due to their lack of cooperation, they were put on probation. They were sent a letter concerning the probation, but failed to give a reply.
“The reason the post commander doesn’t know what is going on is because we couldn’t schedule meetings.”
This, Powell said, resulted in a suspension — and state and district officials taking the post’s documents and keys. At least for the time being, operations at Post 502 have ceased.
The specific issues Powell cited included problems with the building — namely a roof leak — questions as to how money was being spent at the post and the facility being rented on the weekend for parties that the post’s members had little or no control over.
The next step regarding the post’s future will be determined at the Georgia American Legion fall conference in October, Powell said.
Carroll responded by saying that he had been approached by the district commander in June with a request to discuss the issues. He said that he and his officers asked on multiple occasions for a copy of a letter outlining the issues and the requests were denied.
He said the post tried all the proper channels, adding that the post’s officers went so far as to meet Powell at a motel.
“We asked for a copy of what the issues are,” Carroll said. “He said the department told him not to give me any information on what the negative issues are. He didn’t give us an answer.
“At the motel, he said he was going to be available Aug. 6 to lay it all out on the table. We all showed up and he would not tell us anything.”
Instead, Powell requested that the post be put on suspension, Carroll contends.
When a Herald reporter mentioned the issues Powell had outlined, Carroll replied by saying: “I would have been glad to hear all of that.”
One of the post’s commander’s main concerns at this point, he said, is how he and his officers will be able to defend themselves in October.
“It’s like a state trooper writing a ticket and giving it to you without telling you what your offense was,” Carroll said. “You wouldn’t know how to defend yourself (in court).
“The post is going down, and we can’t figure out if (district or state officials) have a personal problem or not. Nobody knows what’s going on.”
Carroll added that the roof situation was something the post was trying to work on, and that there has been no money spent on anything without membership input.
“We just pay the bills,” he said. “There is a financial record that is handed out, and (members are asked to present) questions to the finance committee. If something is questionable, it goes to the executive committee.
“Nobody did that.”
Carroll also said that Powell may not have been able to contact him because he called the post’s commander’s cell phone, a device he does not always carry with him.
“The district commander stated that he couldn’t get a hold of me,” Carroll said. “I told him to call my primary number, which is my home phone number, and he calls my cell phone.
“He then calls my No. 2 and No. 3 and says he can’t get a hold of me.”
Powell said there were no other posts in the district in danger of closing down in the near future.