KINGSTON — The Black Diamond Post is shining again.
The Pennsylvania American Legion shut down the American Legion Black Diamond Post 395 in March 2013, citing bad management. Officers said bills weren’t being paid on time and debt was mounting.
Through the efforts of a new leadership team and the loyal members, the post on Wyoming Avenue reopened six weeks later.
The post, chartered in 1921, was in need of physical and financial repairs.
Members and officers of the post gathered last week to talk about what went wrong and what had to be done to get things back on track.
Lonnie Seaman, commander; Paul Martin, junior vice commander; John J.R. Richards, sergeant at arms; and Rich Pries, financial adviser, are all Vietnam veterans and they talked about the struggles of the post and its recovery.
State American Legion Commander Bill Cleveland and State Department Adjutant Kit D. Watson heaped praise on the new Black Diamond leadership and membership.
“We’ve been monitoring the post and watching its progress,” Cleveland said. “Absolutely, it has always been our objective to keep the post open.”
Watson said the state intervened when the post was in danger of closing.
“No doubt, the Kingston Post was in jeopardy,” Watson said. “It was in danger of closing because it couldn’t meet its obligations. We put it out to them to either step up and maintain this post or it would go by the wayside.”
Cleveland said it’s especially gratifying that the Kingston post has recovered in time for the American Legion’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2018.
Local team effort
Seaman said the club now has 185 regular veterans as members, plus an additional 500-plus who are members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion.
Seaman, Martin, Richards and Pries, along with John Larkin, steered the ship to recovery. Seaman said the building needed “lots of repairs” and the monthly bills needed to be brought up to date. He said the post was about $25,000 in arrears.
Pries said the post now has an “open book” policy. He said any member can look at the books and ask questions.
“We have an extensive system of checks and balances now,” Pries said.
‘Just bad management’
The new officers said they are not alleging any wrongdoing; they attribute the previous situation to “just bad management.” They said several members had contacted the state to ask for intervention.
Now that they have the financial issues cleared up and all bills are current, the post is open to community groups for meetings and events free of charge.
The post sponsors awards for high school students and they have offered free space for fund-raising events for good causes.
The post is open seven days per week: Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight; Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to midnight. Entertainment is offered frequently to attract bigger crowds.
“It was a process,” Pries said. “But everybody helped and we got through it.”