A longtime Columbus icon has closed its doors.
Keith Reeves American Legion 3, next door to the Cherokee County fairgrounds, made the decision to close its bar last week for financial reasons. Earlier in the year, the Legion had reduced its operating hours from opening at noon to 4 p.m. Later it began to close on Mondays and now have made the closing permanent.
Just the bar is closing, said current legion officers. The legion membership functions will continue to be taken care of. The closure of the building will not affect the baseball and softball fields, the Saddle Club or the fair grounds officers with the local post said. The only changes will be that the bar and building will not be open but all other functions including flag folding and honor guards for funerals will continue.
Lifetime Legion member Lee Schertzer, a Viet Nam veteran, had noted a drop in attendance for the last several years.
Schertzer is also a member of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post 1372.
“We have 160 dues paying members,” said Steve Howard with the Columbus VFW. “Our business may increase some with the legion closure but we don’t know how much.”
Howard also noticed the drop in membership as aging veterans pass away.
“We have been a lot larger post in the past,” Howard said. “Most of the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans don’t live near Columbus.”
American Legion membership requirements are for current or past active duty vets to have served in the same era of a designated list of wars. VFW requirements are to have served in the actual conflicts, deployed overseas. Dues are just over $60 annually.