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Ogdensburg VFW Post 2936 to be investigated by the state

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OGDENSBURG — The state Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars will conduct an investigation of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2936 following the post’s abrupt closure last month.

The post, at 525 Caroline St., closed in October after electric and phone service were disconnected. Commander Larry Latimer, who said he hoped to have an overdue bill paid and power to the building restored, resigned his post last week.

Repeated attempts to reach Mr. Latimer have been unsuccessful.

Following his resignation, state Department Commander James A. Durkin ordered a team of state representatives to assess the post’s financial situation.

“Until we have the meeting, we don’t know what the process and what the next steps are,” Mr. Durkin said. “There will be an investigation. If there are funds missing, it depends on the organizations involved. State organizations such as the New York State Racing and Wagering Board will be reported, but the state would need to follow up on that.”

The department also will head a closed-door meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Community Center, to determine the status of the post.

“We don’t want to see the post close,” Mr. Durkin said. “It’s important to have posts in local areas. Most of our fundraising goes directly back into the communities and veterans’ families. And if we don’t have representation, veterans may not get the support they need and know of the important programs and services available to them.”

Lester M. Duvall, who served as post commander before Mr. Latimer took over in 2011, said he is hoping to be elected to the top post at the meeting.

“When I was commander, we had a good rapport with the community — with our people; we got things through,” he said. The post “is not going to hand in its charter. I don’t want to see it close. I put too much hard-earned money and labor into that.”

He said community support for the post has dwindled over the last year under its current leadership.

“I stepped down after four years, during which time we did not have the problems that they have today,” Mr. Duvall said. “I think Larry stepped down because he was overwhelmed with the position and couldn’t get help, and because he didn’t have anybody to help him.”

He said there also was a lapse in maintaining paperwork.

“For all we know, there is no paper trail,” he said. “We don’t know what has been paid for and what hasn’t.”

Ladies Auxiliary President Marsha L. Morrow resigned last week, according to the former president of the auxiliary, Ellen M. Washburn. Ms. Washburn said she would step in again as president of the auxiliary.

But the fate of the organization lies solely in the hands of its remaining members. Mr. Duvall said he hopes to get at least 25 to 35 post members to attend Thursday’s meeting.

“We need to have enough people to fill in all the positions,” he said. “If people want the post to be operational, we need all the support we can get from our members and the community.”

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