The former American Legion building on Coon Street in Rhinelander is in the process of transformation. A new bar, insulation, spruced up main hall, two new bathrooms and 90 percent of a new kitchen have been added over the past year. A new name, Rhinelander Veterans Center, will be added to the building’s exterior when all is complete.
“We bought the building two years ago,” said AmVets volunteer and building manager Leroy Eades. “The first thing we did was finish the bar. When the troops come home on weekends after their once a month maneuvers they can come here and then walk back to the armory.”
Sky high heating bills lead Eades to a grant application to Home Depot which was started a couple of years ago and abandoned. Eades and his wife picked up the ball.
“Neither Shirley nor I know anything about computers, but we worked our way through it,” he said. “I asked for $7,200 and they came through with a grant for $8,400 to do all of this.”
Much of the materials and labor were donated. Last month, Rocky’s Roadhouse held its annual meat raffle which brought in $800 in proceeds to go toward the building project. Rocky’s manager, Tammy Ahles, said they do a lot of fundraising for the veterans groups.
“They are a great group of guys,” Ahles said. “We really believe in what they are doing, too.”
Eades’ great-grandson, Nick Petreikis, is present at many of the AmVets events, and recently ran his own 50/50 raffle, raising $140 dollars for the building fund.
In addition to the bar and main hall, the building houses offices for the AmVets, American Legion, Disabled American Vets the Military Support Group.
Eades anticipates a re-grand opening once the entire building is complete.