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Sale of building may balance books for Legion

April 27, 2001

Sale of building may balance books for Legion



By JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - Hagerstown property owner Vincent Groh will be the new owner of the Sharpsburg American Legion building on Shepherdstown Pike southwest of town.

Groh submitted the winning bid of $345,000 at an auction at the Legion building on April 18, according to the Boonsboro auction service, J.G. Cochran & Associates.

Groh said he expected the sale to close within 45 days of the auction.

Groh plans to sell the building. If he can't sell it, he would consider other options such as turning it into leasable office space, he said.

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The Legion will continue to use the building for meetings until the sale is closed, said Tom Witmer, commander of Post 236.

Witmer said he hopes the proceeds from the sale will cover the Legion's debt. He wouldn't disclose the debt amount.

The Legion has been experiencing financial troubles for years.

Witmer attributed the club's financial troubles to several factors, including difficulty in recruiting younger members and the group's move a few miles outside of Sharpsburg in 1991.

Members are reluctant to drink many alcoholic beverages at the post because they are afraid they will get pulled over for drunken driving, Witmer said.

When they drink less, they play the tip jars less, he said.

The Washington County Gaming Commission also cuts into the club's tip jar profits, taking 15 percent, Witmer said. The Gaming Commission distributes its share of tip jar proceeds to the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association and local charities.

Carl Rihard, finance officer for the Legion, said the club held events such as crab and shrimp feeds that created enough revenue to keep the club afloat for a month or two at a time, but that didn't solve the overall debt problem.

Rihard said he became involved with the post eight years ago.

"It was in bad shape then and it hasn't changed," he said.

Even as the building sale could help put the club on firmer financial ground, Witmer said he was disappointed with the sale price.

The club bought the property in November 1991 for $410,000, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

The property's value as of Jan. 1, 2000, was $625,300, according to the department.

The property includes approximately 8 acres. It used to be the Inn at Blackford's Crossing.

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