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Marion County's American Legion Post 62 on Elm Avenue in South Pittsburg

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. - Marion County American Legion Post 62 is just across the street from the South Pittsburg City Hall where an annual donation was once given to help keep the organization going.

At the September meeting of the South Pittsburg City Commission, board member Jimmy Wigfall said he wants to know why those contributions stopped.

"What happened?" he asked. "Usually when somebody [like a city government] is making donations, it's an ongoing thing."

Officials said South Pittsburg made an annual $3,000 donation to the American Legion for at least several consecutive years in the past, but that was stopped in 2008.

Current city leaders said they don't know why the donations ceased.

Wigfall said the county American Legion group is in desperate need of funding, and the nearly 100-year-old building the post has called home since just after World War I requires significant repairs and renovations.

Mayor Jane Dawkins said she pushed for a donation to the post from the Marion County Commission two years ago as a member of that board.

"We were able to get a contribution last year and this year [from the county]," she said. "We'll go back and ask again this year if we need to."

City Attorney Billy Gouger said he looked for some available grants from the national American Legion organization last year, but there were none.

"It's kind of strange," he said. "You'd think that organization would be supported by federal dollars, but it's really not. They exist almost exclusively on public and private donations and fundraisers."

There could be grants accessible now, Gouger said, and there are sometimes non-governmental grants available.

He's worked recently with state officials trying to find funding for similar organizations, he said.

"We could ask," said Gouger. "All they can do is say 'no.' It might be worth asking to see if there's anything out there that would be beneficial."

Dawkins said the board would meet soon with other city officials to examine the budget and explore ways to get more funding to the local American Legion post.

"We'll look at the budget and see where we are," she said. "We'll see if we can come up with something and continue to search for grants."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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