The VFW Post in Batavia is in a poor state of repair, and Rep. Chris Collins is pushing legislation that could help the post, and veteran's service organizations throughout the country.
Collins highlighted his legislation today with an appearance at the post.
Incoming Post Commander Ronald Jackett gave a tour of the building, with it's stained and missing ceiling tiles, corroded bathrooms and peeling paint.
Jackett estimates repairs -- including a new roof -- will cost $40,000.
To help raise funds for repairs, the post is selling tickets for a Harley-Davidson raffle, but he certainly welcomes the proposal being pushed by Collins to make Community Development Block Grant funds available to the nation's veterans services groups for building repairs and upgrades.
"Many of these organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion are able to fund themselves by offering their facilities for special events such as birthdays and weddings," Collins said. "Their facilities serve as community centers, bringing neighbors and families together for special events. These organizations should have the ability to repair their existing facilities and further ensure the safety of those using them for special occasions and gatherings.
Collins said by using CDBG funds, the program draws from an existing expenditure, rather than creating new spending that would add to the federal budget deficit.
Wherever the money comes from, it would certainly be welcome, Jackett said.
"I don't know how we're going to do on this motorcycle raffle," Jackett said. "It's very slow going. It's very important. If we don't get enough off this motorcycle raffle, we're going to be looking everywhere else we can to try to get funding."
The post hasn't been able to use its kitchen for more than a year. It used to be an important source of revenue, generating as much as $1,000 a week in sales.
The Harley is routinely on display at Chesley Auto on East Main Street, Batavia, where raffle tickets may be purchased.
The bill sponsored by Collins is similar to one introduced by other members of Congress in previous sessions, but never passed.
After their appearance at the VFW, Collins and Assemblyman Steve Hawley visited Ken Barrett Chevrolet, which was hosting a recruitment drive for the county's veterans' groups, with WBTA broadcasting from the dealership.