Local VFW holds special community event; Post recognized for 75 years of service to Calhoun

Monday, April 11, 2021

On Sunday, April 11, the community gathered for a family-fun event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Veterans of Foreign Wars Renis Barrett Post 5376 in Calhoun.

During the event, the members of the Post served lunch and provided a petting zoo, bounce houses, face painting and an exhibition of military vehicles for children and their families to enjoy.

During a special ceremony, the Post was presented a special certificate by the National VFW in honor of the 75th anniversary of the post on April 4, 2021.

“The VFW National Commander Hal Roesch’s motto is ‘20/20 Vision for Veterans,’ and is a great one as it reflects the mission of our great organization and the philosophy of the VFW at every level. The VFW and Auxiliary members know that absolutely no one is more deserving to assist our American Veterans, service members and their families,” said Tony Dobbins, VFW State Adjutant. “Our Post anniversary is a celebration; not just for the post but for the entire VFW family in Calhoun. Seventy-five years might seem like yesterday, but we are talking about nearly a century. A lot has changed; the world when this Post was established is entirely different from the one that we live in today, yet some things remain the same…the men and women who served together, fought together and came home together to establish this post together. I’m talking about comradeship. This momentous occasion should not stand for just the 75 years behind it, it should stand for the next 75 years as well. It should point the way to the future and carry a story of commitment to those who are serving today and to those who will serve tomorrow.”

The certificate was then presented to Post Commander John Brown by Willie Guzman, VFW District 1 Commander. The certificate read in part, “In special commemoration and grateful recognition of the 75 years of exceptional service of dedicated support for programs of the purposes to serve the Veterans of Foreign Wars.”

After the ceremony, the Post held a Cornhole Tournament, where the team of Jesse Bagley and Christopher Fincher took first place and $50 gift cards to Duke’s each.

The VFW Post 5376 in Calhoun was established on April 4, 1946 in honor of its namesake Pvt. Renis W. Barrett, a soldier from Calhoun who was killed in action on July 27, 1945 in the Philippines. Barrett’s family donated the land that the VFW, and the land across the street where the National Guard Armory, sits.

Over the years, the local VFW, a branch of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, served the community in various capacities, having ball fields for youth to play on and hosting event for local veterans but interest has waned in the last few years as an age gap between the Vietnam-era Veterans and the more recent Afghanistan-era Veterans left a hole in participation.

These days, some of the younger Veterans of our community, many still serving with the 1-108th Cavalry located at the National Guard here in Calhoun, have made it their mission to reinvent the local Post, bringing it into the modern era, with the goal of bridging the gap between the different Veteran groups.

 

The special event was held on Sunday as a way to reintroduce the local Post to the community. The Post is receiving a major overhaul, bringing the building up to the modern era, while additional programs to serve Veterans and the community are being planned.

 

Anyone who would like to donate to the renovation project or find out ways they can volunteer their time, can email VFW5376@gmail.comVFW5376@gmail.com or the Post now has a Venmo account set up where donations can be made: @VFWCalhoun

To learn more about the local VFW, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VFWCalhoun/?ref=page_internalhttps://www.facebook.com/VFWCalhoun/?ref=page_internal

Local VFW undergoing renovations; to hold special community event on April 11 in honor of 75th anniversary

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post is receiving a major overhaul, a fitting tribute to the establishment marking its 75th anniversary in Gordon County in April. And on Sunday, April 11, 2021, the VFW will be hosting a special community event to celebrate at their Post, located at 406 West Line Street in Calhoun, from 12 – 4 p.m. There will be a Cornhole Tournament from 2 - 4 p.m. that day with prizes, a Petting Zoo, Pallet Board Painting, a Water Balloon Toss contest, Cookie Decorating and other family-friendly activities that day. The public is invited to attend.


In addition that day, the Post will receive a special plaque commemorating 75 years since their charter. 

“We just wanted to invite the community out to celebrate and see the new direction we’re taking this Post and explain what we do,” said Post Commander Pro-tem John Brown.


The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is a nonprofit Veterans service organization with roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service. Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves. These groups would eventually band together and become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum. Today, membership stands at more than 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary.


The VFW was instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, development of the national cemetery system, in the fight for compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, the VFW won a long-fought victory with the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st Century, giving expanded educational benefits to America’s active duty service members, and members of the guard and reserves, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the VFW was the driving force behind the Veterans Access and Accountability Act of 2014, and continually fights for improved VA medical centers services for women veterans.


The VFW Post 5376 in Calhoun was established on April 4, 1946 in honor of its namesake Pvt. Renis W. Barrett, a soldier from Calhoun who was killed in action on July 27, 1945 in the Philippines. Barrett’s family donated the land that the VFW, and the land across the street where the National Guard Armory, sits.


Over the years, the local VFW, a branch of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, served the community in various capacities, having ball fields for youth to play on and hosting event for local veterans but interest has waned in the last few years as an age gap between the Vietnam-era Veterans and the more recent Afghanistan-era Veterans left a hole in participation.

Now, some of the younger Veterans of our community, many still serving with the 1-108th Cavalry located at the National Guard here in Calhoun, have made it their mission to reinvent the local Post, bringing it into the modern era, with the goal of bridging the gap between the different Veteran groups.

“A lot of VFW posts are run by Vietnam vets, which is perfectly fine, but Vietnam-era vets and Afghanistan-era vets have two different lifestyles,” said Brown. “So previously, a lot of the younger Veterans did not want to come into the posts because things were geared toward an older audience. The biggest thing we’re trying to conquer is the 50-year age difference between the current era Veterans and the Vietnam-era Veterans. We’re trying to bridge that gap.”

In bridging the gap at the local post, massive changes have already taken place, including a still-in-process renovation project of the building and grounds, and plans for a major community outreach.

“The local post opened in 1946 in a small, wooden shed,” said Brown. “This land frequently flooded until Carter’s Dam was constructed and fixed the flooding issue. Members have slowly added onto the building, becoming what it is today.”

Today, the brick building is receiving a major overhaul, with new electrical and updated decorating throughout, including a new bar area.

“This is a fairly old building and it has been labor intensive getting this place up to code,” said Randy Boatner, Post Quartermaster Pro-tem. “We’ve had some donations of both labor and supplies, and we’re looking for others in the community who would like to help volunteer.”

“We had a company donate about a full week of his entire electrical company, donating all of the materials for the electrical work, bringing everything up to code,” said Brown. “We are extremely appreciative of this company for their donation. And Coloso Construction, which is owned by a Guatemalan immigrant, has donated labor to help us fix a big roof leak on the back of the building. His entire goal is to make sure the veterans and the community knows he appreciates our service and that he wants to be a part of this.”

Queens Tree Service has also donated a lot of labor-intensive hours to helping clean off the outside, as well as owner Travis Queen building a beautiful the new bar for the post.

While in the past the VFW has been known as a place for its members to unwind at the bar, that service is no longer a main offering of the Post.

“The bar will not be the main focus of the Post,” said Brown. “We probably won’t open the bar during the week until 4 p.m. each day. The bar on post is used to generate revenue to put back into the community; this is a business but it is not-for-profit. Everything we make will be generated back into the community.” 

Another change is that the Post is a smoke-free facility at this time; anyone interested in smoking cannot do so inside the building but there will be an area outside for smokers.

In addition to the building rehab, internally there are many programs the Post is working to implement in the future.

One of the major programs the Post is wishing to implement is Veteran assistance with VA Claims.

“The VFW itself has a position called a Service Officer; that position is specifically for serving Veterans with those types of needs,” said Brown. “We want to have someone in our Post fully dedicated to that service.”

Another program the Post would like to implement is counseling and job assistance services to vets.

“We’d like to partner with counseling students, who need volunteer hours to get their license, to offer free counseling for Veterans out of the Post. That’s obviously a big issue in the Veteran community, with Veteran suicide and Veteran substance abuse and arrests on the rise,” said Brown.

“We’d also like to offer a Veteran job fair,” said Boatner. “As we get Veterans in, get them housed, get them counseling and get their benefits set up, we can also help them find a job.”

“Most of the people who are coming into the VFW are still serving,” said Brown. “We’re able to keep up on the current issues because we’re seeing them. We can take a lot of resources from mandatory briefings that we get and bring those resources, like Work for Warriors or family support, here (to the VFW).”

In addition, the Post wants to address Veteran homelessness by being able to partner with local hotels to provide that segment of the population a place to stay until more permanent residency can be obtained, and offer funeral service assistance to Veterans.
   
The members of the Post also look forward to holding special ceremonies and events on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Independence Day, as well as holding a holiday outreach for Veteran families and low income families in November and December.

For non-members, the Post wants to hold community events, such as Saturday morning family movies in their event hall and Movies Under the Stars events, as well as giving access to their event hall to local church groups as needed for meetings.

These programs are in the planning stages and will be implemented as funds are raised for the Post.

In addition, the local VFW is interested in letting local teams use their ball fields as needed and on March 27, anyone who would like to volunteer is welcomed to join in a property clean-up on the site, where the Post will be getting their ball fields in shape.

Members of the local VFW give a tour and update to Calhoun Mayor Jimmy Palmer and City Administrator Paul Worley. Pictured left to right: Randy Boatner, John Brown, Mayor Palmer, Paul Worley, Travis Queen and Joe Federico.

“I met the coach of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes that play out here, and we want to do a partnership with them, get the back field cleaned up so they can start having tournaments here without having to pay for a field,” said Brown.

Some of the land will also be cleared to be used as a practice field for the North Georgia Cardinals, a local semi-professional football team whose roster is made up of many Veteran players.

“We’d like to use some of our land, as we develop our future programs by doing a garden for the Veterans, which can be therapeutic,” said Boatner. “Then as we open up our kitchen, we have our own garden center, all home grown, farm-to-table offerings. That’s a type of program we’d like to initiate in the future, and it would be supplied by the Department of Agriculture.”

Some of the old activities of the Post will be reincorporated as well.

“I think, historically, this place has been known for Bingo every Thursday night, so bringing that back and even incorporating things like trivia and karaoke night, so this can be a hangout spot,” said Rachel Brown, wife of John who is heavily involved in the renovation. “There is the Auxiliary as well, which is for spouses and family members. We want to grow the Auxiliary side of the Post to provide the support group to those members as well.”

“The VFW Auxiliary is a huge part of what we do here, and it’s not just women,” said Brown. “It is comprised of spouses and it encompasses two generations on each side. My service makes my parents and grandparents eligible to join the Auxiliary and my future children and grandchildren can join because of my service, along with my siblings. You can have five generations of family members join VFW.”

Boatner said that the Post would also like to be available to students as well.

“We’d like to have a place for our local students to hang out on a Friday night and enjoy playing corn hole or horseshoes, buying food from the concession stands and just having a safe place for them.”

“We want the Post to be a staple of the Calhoun community,” said Rachel Brown. 

While the Post is accepting donations and volunteers, several companies have already stepped up to help out.

Brown said the Post is very appreciative of the folks at Samantha Lusk & Associates Realty, especially Samantha Lusk and her father, Joey, who have been supportive of the group, helping the Post provide a meal to the Calhoun Police Department recently.

The Post is also thankful for Coloso Construction and Queens Tree Service for all their help in the renovation.

During the clean-up, the Post has recovered some disability-assistance items, such as electric wheelchairs, walkers and other items, while cleaning, that need a little TLC, but the Post said the community can reach out to them if those items are needed by emailing VFW5376@gmail.com


On Sunday, April 11, the Cornhole Tournament will consist of 16 teams; there is a $20 entry fee per team. The winning team will receive two $50 gift cards. The tournament is scheduled from 2 – 4 p.m.

Pallet Board Painting is $2 per board and Cookie Decorating is $2 each for 3 for $5. There will also be a water balloon toss that day, where the winning team gets two $20 gift cards to a local business. Various food items will be available for purchase as well.


While the community event will be held outside, the building will be open for tours so the community can see the progress being made.

Anyone who would like to donate to the renovation project or find out ways they can volunteer their time, can email VFW5376@gmail.com or the Post now has a Venmo account set up where donations can be made: @VFWCalhoun

To learn more about the local VFW, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VFWCalhoun/?ref=page_internal
 

Mayor, City officials mourn loss of former
City administrator Eddie Peterson

Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021

Many in the Calhoun community, especially in the City government, are mourning the loss of former City administrator Eddie Peterson, who retired from his position last year. He died at his residence Tuesday, Feb. 16. He was 70.

 

Peterson was hired by then Mayor John Meadows in the early 90’s as assistant administrator. He moved into the administrator role after Cathy Harrison retired from the position.

 

“He followed in Cathy’s footsteps of good financial management of the city,” said Mayor Jimmy Palmer. “I think we reap those benefits today with the low mileage rate and the success we have as a city. He worked with each department head in general government, trying to strengthen that department, and was very successful in strengthening those departments, not only for today, but for the future.”

 

Palmer also said that Peterson was a major part of working with the County on SPLOST projects, which was beneficial for both the City and County.

“He benefitted not only the City, but also the tax payer,” said Palmer.

 

“I worked with him for a number of years, and he was certainly more than a coworker, he was a friend and will certainly be missed by myself and the City. It’s a sad day,” said Palmer.

 

Current City administrator Paul Worley, who took Peterson’s position after his retirement, said “Eddie will be missed by many of us at the City of Calhoun.  Eddie worked for the City for almost 30 years and he had a positive impacted on a lot of people over the years.  I was fortunate to work with Eddie for almost 10 years.  I learned a lot from him and would truly not be in the position that I am today without his help and guidance.  Eddie’s family will be in our thoughts and prayers.”

 

According to Palmer, Peterson was also a major help with Downtown Development grants, which helped finance many of the beautification projects around the City.

 

“Eddie was a major part of this community. For many years he was committed to his job and serving the citizens of Calhoun and Gordon County,” said Downtown Development Director Suzanne Roberts. “He was an intelligent, kind, loyal man with a quick wit and dry sense of humor.  He will be deeply missed by his close friends and family. “

 

Peterson was born June 5, 1950 in Marietta, son of the late Luther Peterson and Pauline Seabolt Peterson. He is survived by his daughter, Dr. Sally Peterson Wyatt and her husband Dr. Josh Wyatt of Greenville, S.C. Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced later. Funeral will be handled by Thomas Funeral Home of Calhoun