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Kailua-Kona VFW post in search of new home

May 10, 2014 - 5:56am

Just a year after the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post set up shop on Makala Boulevard, the growing organization is on the hunt for new digs.

The Kailua-Kona VFW Post 12122 is located at the old Swing Zone location, across from the Old Kona Airport Park, on Queen Liliuokalani Trust land. The post must move out by the end of July, when its lease expires.

The move is disheartening, but expected, said Dick Skarnes, adjutant and quartermaster for the post, which was chartered in 2012. The organization has grown from 52 combat veterans to 163, and had hoped the Queen Liliuokalani Trust would extend the lease.

“A more permanent place, with a three- to five-year lease, has been needed for a long time,” Skarnes said. “The ideal situation would be for us to have our own property and build a facility, but that’s too far in the future to even dream about.”

Instead, the organization is working with a real estate agent to lease a space in the Old Industrial Area that used to house the Pot Beli Deli. The space meets the organization’s needs for about 2,500 square feet of area, a certified kitchen, fire suppression and restrooms.

“It looks promising,” Skarnes said. “We need to move fast, and we have an awful lot of equipment.”

The post is hoping to identify other sites as backups, Post Commander John Grogan said.

“We’re grateful for the trust extending our lease for a month to help us find a new place,” Grogan said.

The VFW has opened its facility for use by a number of veterans organizations, including the Korean War Veterans, the Big Island Retired Military Association and the Gathering of Eagles, Grogan said.

“It’s not only a VFW post. We like to refer to it as a ‘mini vets center,’” he said.

The organization has received a tremendous amount of support from the community, Skarnes said, including an $11,000 grant from Home Depot which allowed it to outfit a kitchen to commercial standards.

The post is counting on the community to help again with the upcoming move, Grogan said.

Calls to the Queen Liliuokalani Trust were not returned by press time Friday.