VFW back in business

LISBON — The canteen portion of Lisbon VFW reopened a month ago while the organization continues to recover from the theft of more than $100,000 that left the VFW financially crippled and its future in doubt.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4111 Commander David Cope contacted the newspaper this week to report the canteen reopened June 8 and is once again maintaining regular hours as the organization tries to get back on its feet following the embezzlement of more than $100,000 in 2015-16. The suspect in the embezzlement died before charges could be filed.

During the course of uncovering the embezzlement, the VFW’s new leadership team learned they had been operating the canteen without a state liquor license because the fees had not been paid to have it renewed. The liquor license was reinstated in April but the VFW could not afford to reopen the canteen until they had enough money to purchase insurance and restock the bar.

Cope said they were able to reopen the canteen thanks to community donations, which the VFW began soliciting Memorial Day weekend. The VFW believes $60,000 is needed to pay back taxes, insurance and other unpaid bills and debts incurred due to the funding loss and leave them with enough of a financial cushion to operate until it can resume generating a cash flow on a regular basis.

About 25 to 30 donations have been received since then, mostly from individuals, but Cope said the Lisbon Lions Club also contributed. The donations, which Cope believes total less than $30,000 so far, helped pay enough bills that they could reopen the canteen.

“We’re still not out of the woods yet. We still got a ways to go,” he said, adding they are gratified by the outpouring of community support to date.

“I’m very pleased with how the community has responded,” Cope said. ‘I’m proud of them because I got a bunch of thank you cards to send out.”

Donations can be made to the VFW Post 4111 Building Fund in care of the local Consumers National Bank, where the money is deposited in a special account.

The canteen is open from 1-10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 10 p.m. Sundays. The kitchen also remains open.

“We have good days and bad days,” Cope said, adding the foot traffic is not what it was before they had to close the canteen.