Doors remain open for Penticton Legion

Legion Command says they are dedicated to keeping the Penticton branch open and operating.

Being put under trusteeship doesn’t mean what people think it does, according to Legion president Murray Grandy.

The Penticton Legion branch  was placed under trusteeship by the Legion’s B.C. Yukon Command on Nov. 1. According to the release, the operation of the branch will be handled temporarily by Command office with local support.

Grandy said that nothing has changed.

“Command did come here and have a meeting with us, but the local executive is still running the branch,” he said. Command has supplied a person to organize the bar for a while, which Grandy said is a difficult job he is welcome to.

“That is not a big deal and we can always use help for that kind of thing. Otherwise there is nothing really any different than before,” said Grandy. “It is a trusteeship, but people are thinking it is like what they call a hard trustee, when they fire everyone here locally, or kick them out, and then send their own people in. It is nothing like that.

Inga Kruse, executive director of B.C.-Yukon Command, agreed that from the outside little has changed with the operation, but there are some big internal changes in terms of who makes what decisions.

“They have the proceeds of the sale of thier building. We want  to make sure they are working on a business plan to get into a new building. They were struggling with that, they were struggling with their finances and they were struggling with their membership,” said Kruse.

“When it isn’t working and people aren’t able to answer the question of ‘what’s your plan?’ we have to help them make a plan.”

It’s not an unusual move, according to Kruse, who noted that out of 150 branches, a third might be under some sort of observation or direct involvement at any time.

When a business plan has been developed, Command will bring it to the Penticton membership for a vote, and return full control of the branch to a local executive as soon as matters are sorted out.

This isn’t the first time Command has stepped in at the Penticton legion. In 2009, Command was close to putting a trustee in when there were problems with the local executive, and in 2012, a trustee was brought in to run the operation for several months, until a new executive took over on Jan. 1, 2013.

Related: Penticton Legion looks to regain footing

The current situation is far less severe, said Kruse.

“There is a whole lot less cleanup. We are curating this branch right now,” she said. “We work with the executive. We are just making sure nothing falls off the table.”

Kruse also said Command is dedicated to keeping the doors open in Penticton.

“We would never have put this much effort and resource into a branch that we didn’t think was an important branch,” she said. “They have a really good membership base, they just haven’t done some of the stuff they need to do to guarantee their future.”

But Grandy said that as far as he is concerned, it is business as usual for the Penticton Legion. Since the sale of their building to John Vassilaki, he said the Legion’s position has improved.

“I think things are coming along a little better than last year,” said Grandy, noting that in their elections for executive on Nov. 17, they had nine people trying for the five available positions.

“We had to have a election and come up with five, which is a pretty good sign,” said Grandy, adding that in the past, it has been difficult to find enough people to fill the seats.

Grandy was returned as president and will be joined by Jim DeMarce as first vice-president, Ivo Jaager as second vice-president, Joyce Peace as treasurer and secretary Marina Ashley.