SALISBURY, NC (WBTV)- The building that is home to one of the oldest and most active American Legion posts in North Carolina is being claimed by the state to make way for a new bridge, but the veterans say the state isn’t offering enough money and that they have to have more time before they vacate the building.
On top of that, they say no one from the state is returning their calls.
“We’re one of the oldest active posts in this country,” said Post Commander John Taylor. ”Probably one of the oldest active posts in this state.”
Organized in 1922, and named for a World War One hero, the Samuel C. Hart post has always been active in giving and charity work, especially for veterans.
“When the government came in to build the VA hospital our post sold all that property for $1, and like an American Legion, all we’ve ever done is do our best to help veterans,” Taylor added.
And now they say the state is turning its back on them and evicting them on May 8.
The Post is on Highway 29 north of Salisbury, right between the road and the railroad tracks. Citing eminent domain, the state is taking the land for a new bridge. The Legion members understand that, but they say the amount of money being offered is less than half the value of the property, and they can’t get anyone to talk to them about getting a little more time before they are evicted.
And when they call the number printed on the bottom of the letter from DOT informing them of the final eviction notice, a recording says that the number is disconnected.
“It’s been very frustrating,” Taylor says. ”I’ve been given disconnected phone numbers, phone numbers of people who won’t return our phone calls, they won’t talk to our lawyers, they don’t return our lawyers emails or his phone calls.”
The post is in the process of trying to buy property, but within the last week that property was vandalized twice resulting in more than $75,000 worth of damage.
“We’re in the process now of negotiating for the Kiwanis Camp, but that building, as you know, is completely destroyed,” Taylor added. “So it’s going to take a lot longer than two weeks to repair it, and if we could just get some more time and maybe a fair market, everything would be fine, but as it looks right now, but the 8th, we’re going to be out of here with nowhere to go.”
WBTV contacted a representative from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. While not directly familiar with the Samuel C. Hart case, a woman did say that she would look into the circumstances and that in some cases, extensions can be granted.
The DOT representative promised to look into the case and respond to WBTV information requests.
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