Forest Lake Post 225 remodels its post home

By Tim Engstrom
Forest Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Assistant Kayla Mildon holds her cellphone camera high as she prepares to snap a photo of the ribbon cutting on Thursday, April 25. American Legion Post 225 in Forest Lake dedicated its remodeled interior.

FOREST LAKE — Forest Lake Post 225 dedicated its remodeled post home on Thursday, April 25, with a ribbon cutting, champagne and many local officials.

Forest Lake Area Chamber of Commerce President Nannette LaNasa recalled meeting at the Legion for many projects going back 25 years.

“When I found out what you were doing here, I got pretty excited,” LaNasa said.

American Legion Department of Minnesota Commander Paul Hassing said he has been at Forest Lake Post 225 many times over the years. The post is a shining example of veterans working together.

Post 225 Commander Pat Silovich welcomes the community to the remodeled post home and thanks them for supporting their veterans.

“Forest Lake is one of the American Legions we are so proud of,” he said.

Most American Legion posts do not have a post home (building). The ones that do have a bar, restuaurant and banquet business often struggle to maintain it, pay taxes and keep operations going.

Post 225 2nd Vice Commander Travis Dye served as the project manager for the remodel. Upgrades were done to the main bar, main restrooms, business offices, gambling booth and game area.

The effort involved nine months of planning, he said.

The price tag was $800,000, paid for in part by gambling funds, in part by community donations and in part by post funds from the bar, restaurant and banquet operations, Dye said.

Patrons mill around the remodeled bar and restaurant area of Post 225 on Thursday, April 25.

On the gambling part, there were $300,000 counting as lawful purpose expenditures and $55,000 as allowable expenses. The post received permission in advance from the Minnesota Gambling Control Board for the remodel.

Besides the new walls, the first noticebale difference is the post’s long, straight bar is no longer straight, and it isn’t as long. It has a U in the middle now. By shortening the bar and moving the gambling booth to a new area and clearing out some walls, the space opened up for more seating without sacrificing bar stools. There is more room for bartenders to get around and for servers to serve food.

Dye said the remodel involved fixing nine code violations, most notably Americans with Disability Act codes. The main restrooms are far more wheelchair-friendly, for instance.

Third District Commander Rod Reifsteck of Elysian Post 311 shakes hands with Post 225 Commander Pat Silovich after making a brief comment about how great the remodel looks.

This is the first of three phases, he said. The next phase involves roof replacement and a third calls for redoing the tiki bar outside to be more secure and better-looking. A small bank mortgage will help cover those upgrades, he added.

Jody Hassing, director of the Minnesota American Legion Riders, told the crowd that the Fund 85 Run departed from and returned to Post 225 last year.

“Maybe we should have another ride kicking off or ending from here,” she said.

Forest Lake Mayor Mara Bain spoke, too, saying she can’t thank the veterans of Forest Lake enough for all they do for the community.