PRESTONSBURG – If you pass by the VFW Post 5839 on South Lake Drive in Prestonsburg you will notice work is moving along on the new shelter for homeless veterans in Floyd County.
The shelter is being built by VFW Post 5839. Burt T. Combs chartered VFW Post 5839 in 1946. The local VFW post is named Walter Carl Bowling Post 5839. Walter Carl Bowling was a 17-year-old West Prestonsburg native who was killed on December 7, 1919 when the Japanese sunk the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 1,100 Americans were killed on the USS Arizona.
Talks on the project began around a year ago when members of the local VFW became aware of the various rules and regulations veterans must meet and abide by when living in housing that is assisted by government grants. A project board consisting of Post Commander Paul Edwards, Finance Secretary Larry Sexton, Member Larry Shipley and Project Manager Calvin Howell was formed to make decisions on the project and to ensure plans would move along with the construction of the facility.
Once Post 5839 decided to move ahead with the new facility, members to local architect Randy Burchett to make the official blueprints. The City of Prestonsburg approved the blueprints and the plumbing designs have been sent to Frankfort for approval.
Progress on the facility got off to a slow start when crews excavating the land hit water. Soil engineer Gary Ousley core drilled the area to determine how best to proceed.
The VFW is not accepting any grants to assist with the building of the 6,000 square foot shelter and instead relying on the generosity of the community as well as various fundraisers to provide funding for the project. Post 5839 generates most of its funds through Bingo. The facility will house roughly 24 individuals and include a kitchen, computer room, laundry room and three community bathrooms. Also, each veterans room will include a bathroom. The new building will be connected to the current building by a covered breezeway.
“We will accept single veterans as well as veterans with families,” said Howell. “Several of the individual veteran rooms will have adjoining rooms to make space for families.”
Several area businesses have donated materials, as well as made monetary cash donations to the project. Wells Ready Mix donated 10 yards of concrete. Pine Mountain Gravel donated 25 tons of gravel. Kill More Bugs of Allen donated a ground spray for termites. Bluegrass Materials donated blocks and gave a monetary $500 cash donation. Several individual monetary donations of $20 to $100 have been given. Both 84 Lumber and Lowes have requested to view the blueprints to determine how they can best help, by either donating materials. FEE Construction has agreed to reduce the cost to erect the steel structure of the project. Davis Construction of David donated the labor and equipment for the excavation of the building site.
Prestonsburg City Utilities has been very accommodating and assisted with the project whenever needed, by moving utility lines and adding additional utility poles according to Howell.
Floyd County Jail inmates and students from the Carl D. Perkins Job Corps Center assisted with the groundbreaking of the facility by putting up and taking down tents, providing cleanup of the area and preparing food.
The next step of the project will be for the concrete to be poured and the footer laid.
The steel structure of the building will arrive approximately four weeks after the footer is laid. The steel structure will be completed by FEE Construction. All other labor will be completed by VFW members and volunteers.
VFW Post 5839 contributes to the community of Floyd County in various ways such as performing of military funerals, donating money to veterans and their families for various needs, sending care packages to troops overseas, assisting individuals whose husband or wife is deployed, donating gift cards to schools and supporting local JROTC clubs.
The VFW is currently seeking volunteers who would like to get involved with the important project. Volunteers do not need to have construction experience. However, individuals certified in electrical and plumbing and anyone with drywall experience who would be willing to help are needed. To volunteer, call (606) 886-9428 or email [email protected]
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.