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A little more than seven months after a fire at American Legion Post 416 in Farmington left the veterans service organization without a place to meet, reconstruction of the building's interior is almost complete and its first activity already placed on the calendar.

Post Adjutant Don Weiler has announced that the Le Pere-McCalester post will hold its first meeting at 7 p.m. this evening, the first at the post last summer's fire.

“We had a very destructive fire on the 15th of June of last year," Weiler said. "It wasn’t visible from the outside, but it completely destroyed the inside.”

Although the fire damage was mainly limited to the furnace room and some of the kitchen, smoke and water damage spread to the rest of the interior. Because of the extensive damage, a general contractor was brought in to do the work.

“We had a general contractor come in," Weiler said. "Sargent Construction Co. did the complete renovation of it. They tried to get all local people to replace the electrical, plumbing and heating and air conditioning."

The state fire marshal and fire investigator both determined the fire — deemed electrical in nature — began in the furnace room at the back of the building before spreading to the kitchen area.

As renovation of the building was taking place, the post held its meetings in VFW Hall Post 5896 on Karsch Boulevard.

“The VFW was very generous by letting us rent their meeting room,” Weiler said.

While the kitchen isn’t finished yet, the members are excited to be getting back to holding meetings and events in the building with its completely new interior.

“People will not recognize the hall, it’s very different,” he said.

Weiler is encouraging people to return to see the finished construction and get back involved with the many activities the post has to offer.

“[We] invite all the members to come back to the meetings, and also any prospective members come to a meeting and we’ll be glad to sign them up,” he said.

As far as other organizations affected by the fire, things should be returning back to normal for them as well.

“We sponsor a Scout troop here in Farmington — Troop 247 — and they were meeting at the hall, and I presume they will be coming back to the hall,” he said.

Since some of the facility isn’t yet complete, Friday evening dances at the renovated building will start March 1, from 6 to 9 p.m., with music by Country Classic, featuring Jack and Greg. Admission is $5.

Meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of the month.

Dinner meetings take place at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month.

The post is located at 1604 W. Columbia St. in Farmington, next to the VA Clinic.

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Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or kjenkins@farmingtonpressonline.com

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